ELKTON — Destiny Marie Guns stabbed Chad Thomas Petroulis in the chest with a kitchen knife inside his Perryville apartment late on June 13, 2020 or early on June 14, 2020, causing a nearly three-inch-deep wound that killed him within two minutes, prosecutors maintain.
And then, within that same time frame, Guns made arrangements through a series of text communications to buy four baggies of heroin from someone named “Amy,” according to the state’s opening statement, arguments and testimony presented thus far in her murder trial, which started Wednesday after one-day of jury selection.
“Instead of calling 911, she makes (arrangements for) a drug transaction, almost simultaneously while Mr. Petroulis is expiring in his apartment. She makes no effort to bring this to the attention of authorities,” Cecil County State’s Attorney James Dellmyer outlined Wednesday while successfully arguing against a defense motion to suppress cell phone records of Guns’ text interaction to purchase heroin from that person.
Dellmyer contended that Guns, then 23, was making those drug-purchasing arrangements while she was leaving a gravely wounded Petroulis, 25, outside his apartment — walking past him as she made her way from the apartment building — or in the moments afterward.
The prosecutor told Cecil County Circuit Court Judge William W. Davis Jr. that those records of Guns’ cell phone activity around the time of the slaying sheds light on the murder defendant’s “state of mind” and reveals that she had a “depraved heart.”
Guns is charged with second-degree murder, a felony that is punishable by up to 30 years in prison if convicted. She also is charged with manslaughter, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, which range from five years to 25 years in maximum penalties.
She stands accused of fatally stabbing Petroulis in the kitchen of his outside-entrance apartment in the 300 block of Mansion Drive.
Dellmyer, who is prosecuting this murder case with Assistant State’s Attorney Scott Lewis, did not offer a motive for the murder to jurors during his opening statement.
During her opening statement, Guns’ defense lawyer, Christina Harris Schlecker, told jurors that her client acted out of necessity because Petroulis was acting “violent toward her” after he had consumed methamphetamine and Xanax.
“He was behaving erratically. She wanted to leave, but he cornered her in the kitchen,” Schlecker said, describing that room as a narrow, small space with only one way in and one way out.
“She only did what she needed to do when she left Chad (Petroulis). Mr. Petroulis appeared to be alert and well,” Schlecker told the jurors.
Schlecker did not say that Guns stabbed Petroulis, only that she “did what she needed to do” during her opening statement.
“She did not murder Chad Petroulis,” Schlecker told the jurors.
Det. Sgt. Erin Nehilia of the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office testified Wednesday that she took several photographs of Guns’ body shortly after the incident and that she did not see any bumps, bruises or other marks indicative of an assault.
The doctor who performed the autopsy on Petroulis testified that he found a minute amount of methamphetamine in the victim’s body.
CCSO and Perryville Police Department officers testified that they saw what they believed to meth and drug paraphernalia inside Petroulis’ apartment, after his body was discovered by his mother on June 15, 2020. His mother went to Petroulis' apartment, after he uncharacteristically did not respond to her phone calls and texts, she testified.
Dr. Leslie Mounkes, a Maryland State Police forensic scientist, testified Thursday that Guns was the major contributor of the DNA found on the handle of a knife that investigators recovered from the kitchen floor of Petroulis’ apartment.
Mounkes further testified that there is a 1 in 56 trillion to a 1 in 61 trillion chance that the DNA on that knife handle came from a source other than Guns.
Test results regarding the blade of that knife indicated that Petroulis was the source of that DNA, in the form of blood, and that the odds that it came from a source other than him were even more astronomical.
Surveillance video places Guns at Petroulis’ apartment building and in that general area late on June 13 and early on June 14, according to prosecutors.
So did testimony from Petroulis’ next-door neighbor, who told jurors Thursday that he heard a loud argument coming from Petroulis’ place and then heard a knock on his own apartment door, while he was trying to sleep. When he looked out his apartment door peep hole, that neighbor saw Petroulis sitting outside and then he saw Guns walk by him with a phone in her hand.
The neighbor testified that he did not see any injury or wound to Petroulis, who was shirtless and clad only in long pants. The neighbor also testified that he saw Petroulis stand up seconds later and walk back into his apartment a few feet away. It appeared that Petroulis walked without difficulty, according to the neighbor. In addition, the neighbor testified that he heard banging noises coming from Petroulis' apartment, after Petroulis went into his unit.
Court records indicate that, during one of the two interviews she had with CCSO investigators, Guns maintained that she was not Petroulis' girlfriend, but acknowledged that their relationship had an element of intimacy.
The murder trial is scheduled to resume Friday morning, with prosecutors still presenting their case.