Murderer's Lawyer To Ask Judges Panel To Reduce Sentence

July 07, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Contributing writer

The attorney for a Columbia man plans to ask a three-judge panel to review his client's sentence in the wake of a Maryland Court of Appeals decision that upheld his convictions in the 1987 murder of a SouthCarroll High School student.

Brian Richard Jordan -- then 17 -- was convicted in October 1988 in Carroll County Circuit Court of felony murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in connection with the death of Richard Purman.

Jordan was sentenced to two life and two 10-year terms, to be served consecutively.

Defense counsel J. Barry Hughes of Westminster said last week that the next logical step would be to ask a panel of three judges to consider reducing Jordan's sentence.

"I haven't talked to Brian about it yet, but that would be my recommendation," Hughes said.

Jordan also has the right to have his sentence reviewed by the judge who heard his case. In this case, however, the trial judge was Donald J. Gilmore, who has since retired.

Hughes said the case probably would be sent to another Carroll judge for review.

While the state's highest court last week refused to grant Jordan a newtrial, it did agree to reduce his sentence slightly.

Jordan's appeal attorney, Mike Braudes of the Baltimore Public Defender's Office,argued that, because the conspiracy was only one crime, he should have been given only one conviction and only one sentence.

The Courtof Appeals agreed, saying the facts in the case "did not support thedetermination that two conspiracies existed."

The six judges unanimously ruled one of the 10-year sentences for conspiracy was illegaland threw it out.

Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman saidthe effect on Jordan's sentence would be minimal. He said Jordan still would not be eligible for parole for about 30 years.

Braudes further argued that his client should be granted a new trial because Hughes decided not to allow Jordan to testify in his own behalf.

Before Jordan's trial, Hughes argued that a 95-minute statement the youth made to police after his arrest was involuntary and was obtained illegally.

According to the court documents, Jordan "asked whether he could have a lawyer, but was told that none was available. He also was not permitted to contact his mother."

Then-Carroll Circuit Judge Gilmore ruled that while he believed Jordan's statement was voluntary, it could not be admitted at trial because he never waived his right to have an attorney present.

Because of that ruling, Hughes decided not to put his client on the stand to testify.

He said was concerned that if something Jordan said differed from what he told police, Hickman then would have been allowed to introduce the statement into evidence to show inconsistencies.

Rather than take that chance, Jordan did not testify on his own behalf.

Jordan asked to Courtof Appeals to rule on whether the statement to police was voluntary or not. If they found that it was made involuntarily, Jordan could have been granted a new trial.

By a 5-to-1 vote, the judges declinedto decide the matter, saying that because the statement never was introduced and Jordan never took the witness stand, the statement was not used against him.

"His right against self-incrimination was notinfringed upon, as he elected not to testify," wrote the court in their 17-page opinion.

Hickman said he was relieved that the case will not be tried again.

"It was a tremendous ordeal for the family," he said.

James Purman, Richard's father, called the idea of going through another trial in the case "dreadful."

Jordan was not theonly youth convicted in Purman's murder.

Brian Tracy of Westminster was convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder,robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in the death of Purman.

Tracy also is serving two life terms plus 20 years at the Maryland Penitentiary for his conviction for shooting Purman in the chest on Nov. 22, 1987.

According to trial testimony, Tracy shot Purman because Jordan -- who was supposed to stab Purman -- could not get the knife out of its sheath.

Tracy, Jordan and Dawn Torres -- all 17-year-old residents of the Sykesville Shelter Home for delinquent youths --planned to steal his car and drive to California.

Torres testified on behalf of the state and the Hampstead resident's case was handled privately in Juvenile Court.

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