The first day of the double murder trial of a Largo man described by police as a serial killer focused heavily on the emotional discovery of the bodies of the mother and daughter victims in the 2009 case.
“As firefighters put the fire out, they made a gruesome discovery, the final resting place of Delores and Ebony Dewitt,” said Christine Murphy, one of two prosecuting the case in Prince George's County Circuit Court. “At the conclusion of this case, you’ll have heard piece after piece after piece of evidence that forms a neon arrow pointed at the defendant.”
Jason Scott, 29, is facing two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Largo residents Delores Dewitt, 42, and her daughter, Ebony Dewitt, 19. Their bodies were found March 16 inside a burning stolen car parked outside a vacant home near their residence.
Opening arguments began Tuesday in the trial, which officials said could last up to six weeks.
Scott previously was convicted on federal gun trafficking, child pornography and carjacking offenses for which he was sentenced to 100 years in prison by a federal judge.
At the trial’s start Tuesday, prosecutors focused on the rash of burglaries and home invasions in the area that have been linked to Scott and said evidence recovered from a burning car suggests Scott strangled the women inside their residence, put their bodies in a stolen car and set the car on fire.
Defense attorney Harry Trainor asked the jurors not to become emotional as evidence and testimony is presented. Trainor said Scott had already admitted to police a number of burglaries, which are not part of his indictment in the Dewitt case and should not be considered when deliberating, he said.
“None of us will be about to hear [witnesses] without feeling emotional. It will be difficult for all of us to put our emotions beside,” Trainor said. “We’re not here to decide anything else that happened to any other people in any other case.”
Scott is also a lead suspect in several other homicides, according to police, though he has not been charged.
The trial’s first day also included prosecutors playing a 911 call for a stolen vehicle that the Dewitts were found dead in after it was extinguished.
“I turned and saw the charred remains of the body,” now-retired county fire/EMS department Capt. Charles Finn III testified.
Finn said he was tasked with extinguishing the flames and opening the car’s trunk to discover one of the victims’ bodies.
“It took my breath away, and I had to step back. Once I got my composure, I went back to the vehicle,” he said.
A police cruiser camera recording was also played to show the responding police officer’s discovering of the burning Nissan Maxima.
In addition, photos of the victims’ charred bodies were shown to jurors to illustrate that the majority of their skin was burned off, making it difficult for medical examiners to find the cause of death. Prosecutors and expert witnesses said both were killed before entering the vehicle.
Assistant Medical Examiner Ana Rubio, who took the stand Tuesday afternoon, said she examined both victims’ bodies and found bruising on their necks from apparent strangulation.
Nearly 60 witnesses are scheduled to testify throughout the course of the trial, prosecutors said.
Scott, a 2001 Largo High school graduate, is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.