Swartz sentenced to life without parole

November 20, 1991|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Evening Sun Staff

In an emotional hearing, an Anne Arundel County judge today sentenced Michael David Swartz of Annapolis to life in prison with no chance of parole for the murder and $50 robbery of a Crownsville man last year.

Circuit Court Judge Lawrence H. Rushworth fought back tears as he sentenced Swartz, 25, who had tearfully told the judge of his traumatic upbringing, including the 1984 murder of his adoptive parents.

James D. McCarthy Jr., Swartz's attorney, had argued that his client deserved a chance for parole. Swartz is the adoptive brother of Larry Swartz, who is serving a 12-year prison sentence for murdering their parents in 1984 in Cape St. Claire. But the judge rejected that plea.

Swartz's sentencing came a day after a Queen Anne's County jury spared the life of Ronald L. Scoates, a paroled murderer from Florida convicted last month in the July 1990 stabbing death and $50 robbery of his former housemate, 57-year-old Robert Austin Bell.

Swartz, who was convicted in June of felony first-degree murder, ignored his attorney's advice and told the judge that Scoates had stabbed Bell for "no reason." Then, Swartz said, he joined in and stabbed Bell in the back with a different knife.

Prosecutors had sought the gas chamber for Scoates, 31, also of Annapolis. But jurors, who deliberated for three hours and 45 minutes yesterday, apparently were swayed by stories of his childhood spent with a hard-drinking, dysfunctional family -- including a father who terrorized family members with live alligators. They sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

The Queen Anne's County jury yesterday was swayed by testimony about Scoates' childhood in Florida that was described by defense attorney Russell F. Canan as "almost too bizarre for words."

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