As a couple he was charged with kidnapping and terrorizing for 18 hours waited to testify against him, a Baltimore electrician also accused in four murders sent word to the prosecutor that he wanted to plead guilty.
In exchange for the prosecutor's agreement to recommend a 50-year sentence, Ricardo Burks, 31, pleaded guilty Monday in Baltimore County Circuit Court to two counts of kidnapping, two counts of armed robbery and use of a handgun -- the most serious of 21 charges against him. Circuit Judge Christian Kahl scheduled sentencing Nov. 25.
But before then, Burks, of the 400 block of South Augusta Avenue, is to stand trial in Baltimore on charges that he murdered his wife's brother and three teen-agers in Irvington, hours before he abducted a couple from the Sinai Fitness Center parking lot on Painters Mill Road in Owings Mills on April 21.
Prosecutor S. Ann Brobst said Burks apparently took a train to Owings Mills, planning to steal a car to get away.
His hostages, Eric S. Cada, 25, of Columbia and Kimberly Goldscher, 22, of Northwest Baltimore, didn't know about the killings, Ms. Brobst said, but Burks threatened them repeatedly with two handguns and falsely told them he had shot a police officer and escaped from jail.
Burks took $12 and change from the couple and ordered Mr. Cada to drive his Jeep to a bank machine in Columbia and withdraw $170. Then Burks drove to Virginia.
The three stayed for a while at a motel near Kings Dominion amusement park, where Burks used Mr. Cada's account to call his wife. He then drove the couple to the Terrace Motel in Howard County.
Meanwhile, Ms. Goldscher's parents and Mr. Cada's roommates had notified police in Howard and Baltimore counties of their disappearances. Police then tracked the Jeep and some of the credit card purchases.
Burks' wife also had called Baltimore police to report her brother's death.
At 1:30 a.m. April 22, a Howard County police officer arrived at the Terrace Motel and saw three clothed people lying on two double beds through a window. He burst into the room, taking a 9mm handgun from Burks' shoulder holster and a .38-caliber handgun lying on the bed beside him.
Burks spoke in court Monday only to discuss the rights he gave up in pleading guilty.
In Baltimore, he is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his brother-in-law, Marvin Odell Willis III, 25, of the 400 block of Yale Avenue; Derrick Lamont Newman, 19, and Charles Jefferson Jr., 18, half-brothers who lived in the 5800 block of Royal Oak Avenue; and their cousin, Joseph Christopher Alston, 15, of the first block of Walden Oak Court.