Suspect Admits Taking Gun, But Says Officer Drove Him 'Willingly'

November 25, 1990|By Peter Hermann and Kris Antonelli | Peter Hermann and Kris Antonelli,Staff writers

The man charged with kidnapping and assaulting a county police officer while being driven to prison three months ago admitted Friday grabbing the officer's gun and striking her, but maintained she drove him "willingly" to Crofton.

"I got the gun, but I never pointed it at her," Harold D. Rogers, 24, said during an interview in the Prince George's County Detention Center, where he is being held without bail.

After the struggle, which Rogers claimed occurred in an an Annapolis parking lot, "she said she would take me anywhere I wanted if I left her gun and radio in the trunk (during the trip)," he said.

After releasing Officer Janice Schwartz, Rogers said, he and his wife, Sharon, spent the night in a hotel on U.S. 1 in College Park and then drove to Asheville, N.C., where his grandmother lives.

Police spokesman V. Richard Molloy dismissed Rogers' story.

"She drove him willingly, but he's got the gun? There's still an element of force there," Molloy said.

"That would make sense if he had a gun on her. She's in fear of her life. She'll do anything to stay alive."

Rogers was arrested Thursday at a motel in Prince George's County and charged by police there with four counts of armed robbery.

Rogers said Friday he was innocent of those charges.

Anne Arundel police have charged him with assault with intent to murder, armed robbery and kidnapping.

Rogers' wife, Sharon, was arrested at the same time and charged with kidnapping. Police say she helped her husband in the abduction of the officer.

At a bail hearing Friday in District Court in Annapolis, she told Judge Donald M. Lowman that she didn't know her spouse was trying to escape from custody.

"All of this started when he called me on the telephone," she said. "I didn't know he was really escaping. I just got into the car."

Lowman set bail for the 28-year-old woman at $10,000, or 10 percent cash. That means Rogers has to post $1,000 to be released pending her trial.

The low bail amount did not sit well with Assistant State's Attorney Bill Katcef, who reminded the judge that Sharon Rogers had "been on the lam" for several months before her arrest.

"She has certainly not made herself available to law enforcement authorities," he said. "There is no reason to think she will show up in court."

At first, Lowman set bail at $10,000, but reduced it after a tearful plea by Sharon Rogers, who said her family couldn't come up with the money.

She said she had grown tired of running and had contacted Anne Arundel police about turning herself in.

Harold Rogers also said the couple had planned to give up, but said a woman at the motel in Camp Spring where they were hiding overheard some of his telephone conversations and called the police.

"Sharon called her mother, and she missed her children," Rogers said.

"Christmas is coming up, and we didn't want to run no more."

Police say Harold Rogers escaped from Schwartz while being driven from Eastern District police headquarters in Pasadena to the county Detention Center in Annapolis.

Anne Arundel police say Schwartz felt sorry for Rogers when he complained of being in pain after having his hands cuffed behind his back all day. She moved the cuffs to the front and allowed him to sit in the front seat of the car.

While they were stopped in Annapolis, police say, Rogers punched Schwartz, smashed her head agains the car window, stole her gun and forced her to drive to Route 3 in Crofton, where he called his wife.

From prison Friday, Rogers backed his claim that Schwartz participated willingly by saying that she took him to a McDonald's restaurant in Glen Burnie before driving to Crofton. He also said that in Crofton, he put Schwartz's gun on the floor of the cruiser and went into a motel on U.S.

301 to call his wife. He said Schwartz never retrieved the gun.

Police say Rogers told his wife they had two options: to kill Schwartz or to release her. Police say she talked him into releasing the officer.

Rogers' brother, Michael Rogers, has filed a complaint against Anne Arundel police, claiming detectives threatened to kill him for refusing to tell them where his brother was. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating.

In addition to the four armed robbery charges and the charges related to the abduction, Prince George's County court records show that a warrant was issued for Rogers' arrest Oct. 24 for violating probation. He had pleaded guilty in 1989 to charges that he stole a car from a woman who was loading groceries into her trunk at a shopping center in Greenbelt.

He was sentenced to five years supervised probation on that charge.

Court records say he violated that probation by failing to report to a probation officer, moving out of state -- to Asheville, where his grandmother lives -- and failing to enroll in a drug rehabilitation program.

In January, Rogers pleaded guilty to four burglaries in Montgomery County and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The judge also imposed a concurrent sentence of seven years in connection with the kidnapping of his former girlfriend in 1989, court records say.

The sentence was suspended, however, and Rogers was put on probation. He was found guilty Aug. 7 of violating that probation and was scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 28.

"They are trying to keep me in prison my whole life," Rogers said Friday.

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