CROWN POINT, Ind. (STMW) — Lake Superior Court jurors deliberated about three hours before convicting a Gary, Ind. man in a stabbing incident that killed one man and seriously wounded his fiancée last year.

Andre Perry, 28, was convicted of murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery, battery and residential entry in the death of Maurice Downs, 39, and the attempted murder of Cathy Vlamos, who identified Perry as the man who stabbed her in the neck and side. Downs was stabbed and his throat slashed on April 13 outside the couple’s apartment at 2460 Waverly Drive in the Westbrook complex in Gary.

Sentencing is March 8. Perry faces from 45 to 65 years for murder and 20 to 50 years for attempted murder, which Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. could impose consecutively because there were two victims.

In closing arguments, deputy prosecutors Sabrina Haney and Monica Rogina reviewed evidence for the six-woman, six-man jury.

Two days before the homicide, Perry showed up at the couple’s apartment angry that Downs had wrecked Perry’s car. Perry wanted Downs to repair the damage at no charge. During the argument, Vlamos called police, and Perry was told to leave the apartment.

Two days later, testimony showed that Perry and two other men went to the apartment. Perry lured Downs outside, where a struggle ensued.

A witness described Perry standing behind Downs, whom he had in a chokehold. The witness reported seeing a man with a cigarette hanging from his mouth make a stabbing motion toward Downs. Shortly thereafter, two men kicked in the apartment door. Perry cut the phone cord, moved Vlamos’ hair aside and stabbed her three times in the neck and once in the side. The two men ransacked her bedroom. Vlamos’ harrowing 911 call was played for the jury.

Defense attorney Alex Woloshansky argued Perry’s description by the officer who saw him two days before the homicide didn’t match his client, who is 5 feet 8 inches and had a neatly trimmed goatee on April 10.

The officer described Perry as about 6 feet 1 inch and 260 pounds with a scruffy beard. “You can cut a beard off in one day but you can’t grow a beard in one day,” Woloshansky told jurors.

In addition, Woloshansky questioned DNA evidence that showed a mixture of his client’s DNA and Downs’ DNA on a knife handle.

Woloshansky, who brought a former Lew Wallace classmate, biochemist Charles Birdwell of San Diego, Calif., to explain the DNA analysis, argued that Perry’s DNA could have been transferred by Downs after he drove Perry’s car and then touched the knife handle.

The small amount of Perry’s DNA found in that one section of the DNA strand could point to a secondary transfer, Birdwell said.

Haney recalled testimony from Indiana State Police forensic scientist Melanie Wagner that blood can mask DNA contributed from another individual. Evidence showed the handle was covered with Downs’ blood.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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