Ricardo Burks, a Baltimore electrician accused of killing four people in an April drug-related killing spree in southwest Baltimore, has pleaded guilty in Baltimore County to kidnapping a couple in Owings Mills and taking them to Virginia and back in an 18-hour ordeal.
The county charges stem from the abduction of Eric S. Cada, 24, and his girlfriend, Kimberly Goldscher, 22, from the parking lot of Sinai Fitness Center in Owings Mills about 7 a.m. April 21.
That afternoon, the first of the four bodies of the slaying victims was found. The victim was Burks' brother-in-law.
After Burks entered a guilty plea yesterday in county Circuit Court as part of a plea bargain, a prosecutor read an agreed-on statement of facts into the record and Judge Christian Kahl pronounced Burks guilty. The judge set sentencing for Nov. 25, anticipating that the city murder trial, scheduled for Oct. 7, will be completed by then.
Burks, 31, of the 400 block of S. Augusta Ave., faces a maximum of 120 years in prison on the kidnapping and robbery convictions, but as part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to ask for 50 years.
Kahl said he can impose the maximum 120, if he chooses.
Cada, of Columbia, and Goldscher, of northwest Baltimore, were abducted at gunpoint as Cada drove Goldscher to her job at the fitness center.
"He said he would shoot them if he had to, so don't try anything funny," said S. Ann Brobst, an assistant state's attorney, reading the statement of facts.
Before the 18 hours of captivity were over, the couple would be forced to hand over nearly $200 to the gunman, would be driven 150-odd miles south to Richmond, Va., and then back to the Baltimore area, where about 1:30 a.m. April 22 Howard County police burst through an Elkridge motel door to rescue the couple and subdue the gunman.
In court yesterday, Burks, dressed in a black suit and red tie, stood tall as Brobst read through the statement of facts, a bizarre catalog of events crammed into one day.
There was Burks demanding money from his victims, then "treating" them to breakfast at a Columbia McDonald's; the long drive to Richmond, where, along the way, Burks told his prisoners he didn't want to go to Virginia, but kept driving that way anyway.
At one point, after Burks forced the couple to rent a motel room at the Virginia Travelers hotel, near King's Dominion amusement park, Burks drove them to a liquor store where he bought wine and beer.
"He said he was going to get them drunk, then tie them up, so he would have time to escape," Brobst continued.
But Burks never did.
Instead, he drank the beer and wine himself as he drove back to Baltimore, where he again forced the frightened couple to rent a motel room, using Cada's credit card.
Through Cada's credit card, police tracked the kidnapper and his victims to the Terrace Motel on Washington Boulevard in Elkridge.
There, two Howard County police officers, who had spotted Cada's 1990 Jeep parked outside the hotel room, burst through the motel door and caught Burks asleep, with the 9mm handgun in a shoulder holster.
Cada and Goldscher, warned by Burks not to try to escape, were in another bed in the hotel room. They were unharmed.
That afternoon, Burks led police to a field in Anne Arundel County where the bodies of the other three murder victims, all Woodlawn teen-agers, had been dumped.
Burks still faces a trial in the killing of his brother-in-law, Marvin Odell Willis 3rd, 25, of the 400 block of Yale Ave. in Irvington; Derrick L. Newman, 19, and Newman's half-brother, Charles Jefferson Jr., 18, both of the 5800 block of Royal Oak Ave. in Woodlawn, and their cousin, Joseph Christopher Alston, 15.