WESTMINSTER — A former Carroll woman convicted in 1984 of killing her husband was given probation before judgment yesterday on a September theft charge.
Julie Rebecca Wilt, 33, received the ruling during a sentencing hearing before Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns.
Wilt faced a jail term of up to 20 years, but Burns said he considered circumstances surrounding the incident and Wilt's efforts to teach fellow inmates to read during her nine-month incarceration in Jessup.
"I feel that there's a good possibility that Mrs. Wilt can salvage her life and become a productive citizen," Burns said in handing down his decision.
The judge ordered five years of supervised probation.
Wilt now faces a June 27 probation hearing, during which she could be ordered to finish the sentence in her husband's murder, because the theft conviction violated her parole, said G. Warren Mix,a Towson, Baltimore County, attorney representing Wilt.
Wilt was convicted in 1984 in the shooting death of her husband, Timothy JulesWilt, during an argument, and sentenced to 20 years in prison with six years suspended. She was released from prison in September 1988 and placed on parole.
Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill argued for a 1 1/2- to 7-year term for the theft charge.
Wilt, of the 100 block of South Curley Street in Baltimore, was found guilty of theft charges on April 15. The charges were in connection with theft of more than $19,000 worth of furniture from Westminster Antiques on Springs Mill Road.
Court records show that state police were called to the Westminster store Sept. 6 after the owner had returned and found several items had been stolen. Police were called back to the house Sept. 12 when nearby residents reported a suspicious vehicle in the area, court records show.
During a search of the area, police found Wilt in the bushes next to the store. Police said they found several antiques stacked up on the back porch of the business.
However, at yesterday's hearing Burns said the circumstances surrounding the theft were "basically out of her (Wilt's) control."
Wilt was involved in the incident in an attempt to financially aid her boyfriend, ByronPantalonis, with whom she'd struck up a correspondence through a pen-pal program during her incarceration for the murder conviction, Mix said.
"She was in a situation . . . out of almost total frustration and fear for her own safety," Mix told Burns during the hearing.
In arguing for a reduced sentence, Mix said that other than the murder conviction and the theft incident, Wilt stood before the court with a "perfect record."
Hill acknowledged that fact, but said, "She (Wilt) really hits the big ones when she commits crime here in the county" and called for a stiffer penalty.
Bound by leg irons and wearing jeans and a light green T-shirt, Wilt told Burns the theft incident was "probably one of the worst judgment calls of my adult life."
Mix presented to Burns a letter from the Carroll County Board of Education that commended Wilt's efforts to help other inmates learn toread. The letter also said Wilt would be considered for volunteer tutoring work in the community if she were to avoid returning to jail.
"Obviously, he (Burns) gave her a tremendous break," Mix said after the hearing.