A transient taken in by an Arleta woman after she met him in church two years ago has been ordered to stand trial in her death.
San Fernando Municipal Judge James E. Satt said there was enough evidence at a preliminary hearing to try Marshall Deerwester, 24, in the Oct. 11 death of Retha Terry, 73, of Arleta.
Deerwester is charged with one count of murder with two special circumstances--death by poisoning and murder for financial gain--that could result in the death penalty if he is convicted, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jan Maurizi said.
A police polygraph examiner testified that Deerwester told him that he had knocked Terry to the ground twice on Oct. 8 after she threatened to kick him out of the house. Deerwester told him that he gave Terry a fatal dose of pain killers three days later because the ailing woman said she would commit suicide to end the pain if it were not against her religion.
Terry reportedly met Deerwester at her church while he was living with her brother in a car near Hansen Dam, and offered him a room in her house in exchange for driving and light housekeeping duties. The pastor of the church said he strongly opposed the move, but "it was a noble, Christian thing to do, and I hoped it would work out."