Michael J. Mikalajunas, who masterminded the 1988 murder of Christopher L. Weathers along a dark roadside at Fort Meade, has been sentenced to 21 years and 10 months without parole in federal prison.
Judge J. Frederick Motz imposed the sentence late Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
The defendant collapsed in tears at the hearing, and his mother pleaded for mercy from the court.
"I think about it every night," Mikalajunas, 21, of Crofton, said of the murder. "I'm sorry for the pain I caused his [Weathers'] family and for the pain I've caused my parents.
"You don't know what goes on inside my head," he told the judge.
Gayle Mikalajunas, whose son Joseph also was convicted in the case, told Motz that Michael was not properly diagnosed as a manic-depressive personality until he tried to commit suicide in a local mental hospital after his arrest last year.
She assured Motz that Michael Mikalajunas would not kill again, and said she would gladly trade places with him if he did.
"The tragedy happened. It can't be undone," Motz told the defendant at sentencing. "The penalty has to be paid.
"You can't bring back Mr. Weathers, although punishment is something his family has a right to expect."
Federal sentencing guidelines mandated the no-parole prison term, but, should he accumulate good-conduct time in prison, Mikalajunas could expect to be freed on a five-year term of supervised release after serving about 19 1/2 years.
Prosecutors Joseph L. Evans and Jamie M. Bennett said in court papers that Michael Mikalajunas, Craig Largent and former U.S. Army Pvt. William R. Woolridge Jr. killed Weathers with a knife and baseball bat the night of Sept. 4, 1988, on the grounds of Fort Meade after Mikalajunas lured the victim away from a party in Crofton on the pretext of buying drugs.
Joseph Mikalajunas, then an Army lieutenant, went to the murder site and saw the victim's body twice after Michael told him of the murder. Three weeks later, after the lieutenant returned to active duty in Kentucky, he called a friend in Maryland and persuaded him to go with Michael and another person to bury Weathers' body.
The victim's body was not discovered for 10 months. An informant led Anne Arundel County police to the site after Michael Mikalajunas told a girlfriend in a police-monitored telephone conversation that he was responsible for the murder.
Michael Mikalajunas, Largent and Woolridge all pleaded guilty to murder charges, and Joseph Mikalajunas pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the crime.
Largent, who stabbed the victim with Michael Mikalajunas, was sentenced to 15 years in prison without parole. Woolridge received a 10-year and 10-month prison term and Joseph Mikalajunas was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison.