Maryland Man Gets Life Sentence In Strangulation Death of Wife

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After having been found guilty of first-degree murder in June, a Prince George’s County, MD man has been sentenced to life in prison.

Spencer Ellsworth Chase, 50, killed his wife Antoinette Chase in May, 2008 by strangling her with an extension cord. At the time of his wife’s death, Chase called 911 to report that he had returned to the couple’s Upper Marlboro home after running errands to find his wife face down on the floor and unconscious. She was taken to a local hospital but pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Just eight months before, in October 2007, Spencer Chase had been charged by county police with assault against Antoinette Chase, but those charges were dropped after she decided not to pursue the case. The couple had been in the process of separating when she was killed, according to prosecutors.

The sentence of life in prison comes as the result of Spencer Chase’s second trial—the first, held in May 2009, ended in a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. The second jury, however, failed to find Chase’s account of the murder credible; despite the fact that valuables such as her cell phone, BlackBerry, wedding ring and credit cards were missing, there were no signs of forced entry or ransacking in the home.

In investigating the crime, detectives obtained a warrant to have Antoinette Chase’s service provider send signals to her BlackBerry in order to help them locate it. An initial search proved fruitless, but Benjamin Brown, the homicide detective in charge of the case, used a handheld GPS device to locate the signal, leading to the discovery of Chase’s personal items inside a storm drain. In addition to her purse, wedding ring and mobile devices, Brown also found a plastic bag containing a pair of work gloves and men’s rubber-soled water shoes—size 11, the same size as Spencer Brown wears. DNA evidence also linked both Antoinette and Spencer Chase to the work gloves.

Antoinette Chase, 46, worked as an analyst for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Her daughter, 27-year-old Monique Davis, testified during the trial that after her mother’s murder, Spencer Chase called her to ask whether Davis had received any payout on her mother’s life insurance policy. She also said that he displayed no signs of grief.

“Violence in the home can be a silent killer,” State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said during the trial. “The community needs to speak up and speak out on brutality on the home front.”

Spencer Chase denied killing his wife at both the trial and the sentencing. Circuit Court Judge Beverly J. Woodard nevertheless handed down the sentence of life imprisonment, saying “You killed your wife. There’s no doubt in my mind you killed Antoinette Chase.”

 

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