Caruthers, 3 others can be tried separately

Murder-conspiracy alleged against each defendant

Baltimore Sun/October 24, 2002
By Sheridan Lyons

Reputed cult leader Scott Caruthers and his three co-defendants in a murder-conspiracy case can be tried separately, a Carroll Circuit Court judge has ruled. In a one-sentence ruling, Judge Michael M. Galloway granted defense attorneys' motions that their clients be tried separately.

"I'm delighted, but not surprised at all," said Gary Bernstein, lawyer for David S. Pearl, a defendant. "Judge Galloway clearly understood how complex and unwieldy and impossible a joint trial would be."

Prosecutors received the judge's ruling yesterday. The ruling was dated Monday.

Prosecutors had sought to try Caruthers, Pearl and suspects Dashielle Lashra and Dulsa Naedek together.

Each is charged with conspiracy to commit murder and soliciting for murder.

Bernstein and lawyers for the other suspects argued that the right to a fair trial outweighed the expediency of a combined trial.

The four have different and, at times, opposing defenses.

Caruthers and Pearl have filed motions that they be declared not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, motions that have delayed the case.

Caruthers, 57, of the 500 block Scott Drive, Westminster, is an artist, author and inventor who has been described as the space-alien leader of a cult that supposedly used cats to communicate with an extraterrestrial mother ship.

Caruthers has denied being a cult leader and has said that descriptions of the group were a product of science fiction writing exercises.

He is accused of plotting to have former business associate David Gable killed. Similar charges were lodged against Lashra, Caruthers' 43-year-old wife; Naedek, 43, who lived at their home; and Pearl, 48, a lawyer who lived in the 100 block of Masters Court.

Prosecutors later charged Caruthers and Naedek with conspiracy to murder her ex-husband, an offense that carries a possible life sentence.

All four defendants have been held since Oct. 3 on $1 million bail each at the Carroll County Detention Center.

A fifth suspect, Amy C. Dardick, 40, was released on a lesser amount of bail and allowed to leave the state for deprogramming treatment.

The combined trial had been scheduled for May.

No new trial dates were set.

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