A 19-year-old Baltimore man yesterday became the second person sentenced to prison for raping a 16-year-old blind girl last March in a car in the Harundale Mall parking lot.
Philip Michael Saunders was sentenced yesterday to 12 years in prison by Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. His co-defendant, Byron Charles "Bear" Morrow, was sentenced two weeks ago to 18 years in prison.
In separate trials in September, both men were convicted of first-degree rape, a crime carrying a maximum penalty of life in prison. Saunders was also convicted of false imprisonment.
Testimony in the two trials showed the girl was introduced to Saunders through a telephone "party line," prompting Morrow and Saunders to make an afternoon visit to her Glen Burnie home last St. Patrick's Day. The girl testified that Morrow drove her and Saunders to the mall parking lot, where they both raped her in Morrow's Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
In their defense, both men described the girl as a willing sexual partner. The girl testified she can see only large forms, and then only in bright light.
Assistant Public Defender Gary Christopher said a pre-sentence investigation showed Saunders came from a broken home and had a "very poor" education. Saunders' father told the court, "Bear had a lot of influence on Mike and led him astray a lot of times. Mike's a follower, not a leader."
Assistant State's Attorney Cynthia M. Ferris said Saunders was the leader, and not a follower, in the circumstances that led to the girl's rape.
Saunders told the court, "I'm sorry I put myself in that predicament where I can be charged with a crime."
Thieme also sentenced Saunders to a year in prison for false imprisonment, but ordered that term to be served concurrently with the rape sentence. Saunders has been held at the County Detention Center in lieu of bail since his arrest last April.