SNOW HILL — After deliberating nearly five hours yesterday, a Worcester County jury returned a second-degree murder verdict on a Pennsylvania man charged with running over his elderly mother several times near Berlin last August.
Steven Frederick Molin, 58, of Darby, Pa., faces a maximum of 30 years in jail after a Worcester County jury late yesterday found him guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his elderly mother on a dark, rural road. According to the facts of the case, and hours of testimony over two days this week, Molin ran over and backed over his mother as many as three times, resulting in the injuries that caused her death.
From the beginning, Molin described the incident as an accident, telling police his elderly mother, Emily Belle Molin, 85, also of Darby, Pa., had fallen out of the passenger side door damaged during another accident early in the day. Molin told investigators he merely backed over his mother as he reversed the vehicle in an attempt to pick her up, but evidence collected at the scene ran counter to his explanation of the events from the beginning.
The trial began with jury selection on Tuesday and both the state’s and defense’s cases were wrapped up by Wednesday afternoon. Both sides presented closing arguments early yesterday morning and the jury got the case around 10:30 a.m. The jury had several options to consider, including first- and second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and deliberated for several hours before returning a guilty verdict on the middle charge.
One juror, speaking on condition of anonymity immediately following the reading of the verdict, said there were considerable gaps in opinion to overcome in order to reach a verdict amenable to everyone.
“There wasn’t a consensus initially,” she said. “It took a couple of go-rounds before we could come to an agreement. It wasn’t a cut-and-dried situation. There was a lot of evidence that was hard to interpret.”
The juror said the jury was able to close the gap after going over the testimony and the evidence repeatedly.
“There were a couple of people hanging around involuntary manslaughter and there were more than a couple that wanted a first-degree murder conviction,” she said. “There were two camps, basically, and we were finally able to come around to a middle ground.”
For many on the jury, the case boiled down to pre-meditation, an essential requirement for a first-degree murder conviction. The anonymous juror said yesterday no one on the panel agreed with Molin’s claim the incident was just an unfortunate incident.
“Everybody felt certain she did not fall out of the vehicle by accident,” she said. “The real question was whether or not he planned it. I’m not sure any of us thought it was pre-meditated in the end. He was clearly very stressed and we weren’t able to say for sure if he drove here that night with the intention of killing his mother.”
Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby, who prosecuted the case on behalf of the state, said immediately after the reading of the verdict, he was somewhat disappointed with the outcome despite the second-degree murder conviction. However, Oglesby, who used the words “uncomfortable, unthinkable, unimaginable and inconceivable” to describe the crime during the three-day trial, respected the jury’s decision in the end.
“While I don’t entirely agree with the verdict, I respect the verdict,” Oglesby told Delaware County Times (Pa.) reporter Gil Spencer immediately following the trial. “We really believed we presented a strong case for first-degree murder, but I respect the jury’s decision. I truly believe justice was served.”
Shortly before midnight on Aug. 31, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office responded to a serious motor vehicle accident on Carey Rd. in Berlin just north of Ocean Pines. The victim, Emily Belle Molin, was transported to PRMC in Salisbury where she succumbed to injuries sustained from being run over by a motor vehicle.
From the beginning, Steven Molin did not deny running over his mother as many as three times, but has claimed the incident was an accident, caused in part by a faulty passenger side door on the 2008 Chevy work truck damaged in an different accident earlier in the day.
However, a Worcester County Sheriff’s Office accident reconstructionist, after reviewing the physical evidence and interviewing Molin, determined the victim had been run over three times despite ample opportunity by the suspect to avoid hitting her again after the first collision.
The accident reconstructionist, Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Sgt Ed Schreier, testified on Tuesday if the victim had fallen out of Molin’s truck, he would have had to back up as far as 30 yards, or 90 feet, to run her over by accident.
In the end, the jury found Molin guilty of second-degree murder and a pre-sentence evaluation and psychological evaluation were ordered. Judge Thomas C. Groton denied Molin’s emphatic request to address the court following the reading of the verdict.