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Deliberations begin in trial of soldier accused of plotting with mistress to kill his wife

Maliek Kearney is photographed on Dec. 5, 2011 as a staff sergeant explaining CBRNE response team equipment to Republic of South Korea Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Defense Command soldiers during an exercise at Aberdeen Proving Ground's Warrior Training Center.

CHRIS BUSH/U.S. ARMY

By TIM PRUDENTE | The Baltimore Sun | Published: August 8, 2018

(Tribune News Service) — Dolores Delgado was either a shrinking violet or vengeful mistress, attorneys said Wednesday.

The petite 33-year-old was so blinded by love that she unwittingly helped a soldier kill his wife in Maryland, one said in court Wednesday. Or she was a jealous girlfriend who raised pythons, could handle an M16, and plotted the killing of her rival, another said.

Baltimore jurors heard both portrayals of the Florida woman during closing arguments in the federal murder trial of her on-and-off boyfriend, Army Sgt. 1st Class Maliek Kearney.

“In this whole case, everything rises and falls on the word of Dolores Delgado,” defense attorney Teresa Whalen told jurors in federal court in Baltimore.

The jury began deliberating Wednesday afternoon on whether Kearney, 37, was guilty of the federal crime of crossing state lines to commit domestic violence resulting in a death. A conviction could send the soldier to prison for the rest of his life.

Kearney has attended the trial wearing his dress uniform: white shirt, blue pants, gold stripe. He has stood at attention during the arrival of judge and jury. He bowed his head when prosecutors showed photos of his wife’s dead body. He did not testify.

Police found Army soldier Karlyn Ramirez shot to death inside her Severn townhouse nearly three years ago. A private first class, the 24-year-old mother was found undressed with her infant daughter unharmed in her arms.

Police said someone had shoved a revolver against Ramirez’s body and fired three times: once into her side, twice into her chest. She was shot at point-blank range to muffle the sound, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Clark told jurors.

Ramirez, 24, who was stationed at Fort Meade, was found with her infant daughter beside her body. The child was unharmed.

Her underwear had been pulled down around her ankles. Detectives said they believe the crime scene was staged to appear like a sexual assault.

Kearney and Ramirez had been married about one month before her death.

Kearney’s defense attorneys have blamed Delgado for the killing. They say she plotted to have an unidentified person kill Kearney’s wife.

“This is her chance to make her mark on the man who after 10 years had not been her No. 1,” Whalen said. “She would have had her man and a baby as well.”

Delgado hardly slept that night, she said. Before dawn, she heard a knock.

 Kearney had returned, she said. But he was wearing different clothes than when he left with her car and revolver, she said.

“He was nervous … standing up, kind of pacing," she said.

Whalen told jurors that detectives never found evidence that Kearney took Delgado’s car to commit the murder in Maryland — no fingerprints or DNA.

“She planned it with someone else,” Whalen said. “Her story is a lie about Maliek Kearney.”

Delgado, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, has pleaded guilty to crossing state lines to commit domestic violence resulting in a death. She could be sentenced to life in prison. She testified as a government witness on the third day of the trial. She said she supplied Kearney with her car and gun, then burned his clothes and dumped the revolver off a fishing pier in Florida.

FBI divers found the gun.

Delgado testified that she and Kearney went to elaborate lengths to plan the killing. She told jurors she tracked her mileage to help Kearney determine how much gas he would need to drive from his home in South Carolina to Maryland. She bought two 5-gallon gas cans from Home Depot, she said, so he wouldn’t have to stop at a gas station and risk being seen.

Delgado said she loaned him her Nissan Altima, which was less conspicuous than his Jaguar. She stayed in his apartment with his cellphone. She said she sent two text messages from his phone while he was gone to establish an alibi.

Prosecutors presented the jury with evidence that they say backs up Delgado’s version of events. They showed text messages in which they say Kearney asked Delgado to bring him her revolver.

“That gun is so damn loud,” Kearney texted Delgado days before the killing, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say Delgado went as far as buying Kearney dinner for his drive: A spicy Italian sandwich from Subway.

When Kearney was questioned by police, Clark told the jury, he waited 42 minutes before asking how his wife died.

Clark said Ramirez had trained in jujitsu and mixed martial arts. Kearney earned top fitness scores in the Army.

“He was the only one who could overpower Karlyn,” Clark said.

The prosecutor showed jurors text message after text message that he said revealed a tumultuous end to the couple’s marriage: threats, pleas, rants, confessions.

Ramirez had asked him for a divorce. She sought a protective order from the Army.

Kearney sent more than 900 text message over two days the month before she died, Clark said. He said Kearney had learned Ramirez had been unfaithful.

“I am just getting hulk man,” Kearney texted his wife, according to Clark.

Clark asked jurors to consider another grim message.

“Yes, baby. I would kill you and drink blood from your skull,” Kearney texted, according to Clark.

Whalen called it a joke. She said Ramirez texted back LOL and called him a “neanderthal.”

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