PHILADELPHIA -- Under cross-examination designed to convict him with words from his own diaries, Ira Einhorn said Tuesday that he was jealous and angry at the prospect of his former girlfriend leaving him, but denied killing her.
The former counterculture guru, in his second day on the witness stand, admitted beating two other women who had ended relationships with him.
Einhorn appeared testy at times when prosecutor Joel Rosen forced him to read from diaries detailing failed love affairs. Even though he had angry feelings about Helen "Holly" Maddux, he never acted on his anger, Einhorn said. He is charged with beating her to death and stowing her remains in a steamer trunk.
"I was in control of myself enough not to allow those buttons to be pushed," he told a jury that is expected to begin deliberations this week.
In his diary, Einhorn expressed turmoil, rejection and loss when Maddux announced in 1977 that their sometimes stormy five-year relationship was finished and she planned a 12-day boat trip with another man.
But Einhorn testified Tuesday that he believed the separation was not permanent because she was planning to live nearby and had left him in the past, only to return.
"I did not consider committing acts of violence against Holly Maddux," Einhorn said. "The relationship was not over.... There is no reason to kill someone because she is moving across the street from you."
The prosecutor questioned Einhorn about passages he wrote involving violent impulses.
One diary entry concerned Judith Sabot, a former girlfriend who testified that Einhorn hit her over the head with a Coke bottle and tried to strangle her when she ended their relationship in 1966.
"Violence creeps over my body when I reach towards the destruction of Judy," read a diary entry written before the alleged assault. "Violence always marks the end of a relationship."
Asked by the assistant district attorney about the meaning of the passage, Einhorn replied: "This is a description we can find in any literary discussion when a male is being honest about some things.
"This is literature. This is destroying the part of her that resides in me."
Rosen then asked about Rita Resnick, whom Einhorn allegedly strangled until her face turned red when their romance collapsed in 1962.
"To beat a woman, what joy," his diary entry said on the day that prosecutors claim he attacked Resnick.
The diary contained another entry the next day: "To kill what you love when you can't have it seems so natural that strangling Rita last night seemed so right."
Looking uncomfortable during questioning, Einhorn sought to explain to the jury of six men and six women that the writings were "metaphorical violence" -- literary devices used by William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde.
"Most of us don't hit our girlfriends with Coke bottles, do we?" Rosen asked.
But William T. Cannon, Einhorn's defense lawyer, quickly objected and the question was stricken from the record.
During rebuttal testimony, Cannon asked Einhorn to read aloud about Maddux, who had traveled from Texas to attend Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia.
Dressed conservatively in a dark suit and striped tie, his gray hair closely cropped, Einhorn bore little resemblance to the man who described himself as a "planetary enzyme" -- a flamboyant hippie with an establishment following in Philadelphia decades ago.
"Her beauty a horrible block in dealing with others -- an angel lingers in my mind," Einhorn said, reading a diary entry.
His eyes filled with tears, which he wiped away.
Rosen suggested that the passage could have been written to provide an alibi after Maddux's killing.
"I did not kill Holly Maddux and put entries in the diary later," Einhorn said angrily.
Einhorn is accused of killing Maddux, who was 30 at the time, on Sept. 11, 1977, when she went to the apartment they once shared to retrieve her belongings after he threatened to throw them into the street. Police found her mummified remains in a locked trunk in a closet in the apartment March 28, 1979.
Shortly before his murder trial was to start in 1981, Einhorn jumped bail and fled the country. He was a fugitive in France for two decades before being extradited last year.