Lawyer Calls Cassilly's Actions Politically Motivated

Motion To Alter Convict's Probation Questioned

January 19, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

An attorney for a truck driver convicted of killing two state policetroopers when he drove his truck over their cruiser thinks the county state's attorney's effort to revoke the man's unsupervised probation is politically motivated.

State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly has asked the court to strike a Nov. 27 order granting the driver, CarlD. Cates, unsupervised probation.

"I think it's nothing more than politically motivated," said Lester V. Jones, a Bel Air attorney representing Cates. "(Cassilly) is trying to get as much steam out of this as he can."

Cassilly, a Republican candidate in this spring's primary election for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Barbara Mikulski, responded: "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Every case we've got here, according to Lester, is for political reasons."

Cates, 39, was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter and driving while intoxicated in July 1987for the deaths of the two troopers. They were crushed when Cates drove a tractor trailer over the police cruiser they sat in while parkedon an Interstate 95 median.

Cates was sentenced to six years in prison and fined $1,500.

In November, Harford Circuit Judge WilliamO. Carr signed an order granting Cates unsupervised probation after completing an alcohol education program of the state Motor Vehicles Administration.

Cates, now living in Baltimore County and employed as a construction worker, will start the program this month, Jones said.

Cassilly reopened the Cates case earlier this month after press inquiries into Mother's Against Drunk Driving complaints about the judge's order. A hearing on the probation issue has not been scheduled.

Jones, a former state delegate and unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the Circuit Court bench, said Cassilly singled out the Cates case because it would attract media attention and because voters think drunken driving is unacceptable.

"(Cassilly) knows what issueswill generate support -- or I should say, what would gain media attention," Jones said.

Cassilly argued in court motions that it was inappropriate for Jones to seek a change in Cates' probation without areport from the defendant's probation agent. The state's attorney added that his office was not informed about the requested change in probation.

Jones stated in court papers that prosecutors did not have to be informed about changes in Cates' probation because his client's original sentence has not been altered.

Jones contended that Cates' probation agent was aware of the motion to change his client's probation. The attorney has included a facsimile he sent to the agent in November as evidence in his court motions. The document included acopy of Jones' proposed order specifying unsupervised probation.

An evaluation at Franklin Square's medical center in Bel Air stated that counselors found no indications that Cates has a problem with alcohol. The evaluation is in Cates' court file.

Before the November order permitting unsupervised probation, Cates had been on supervisedprobation for three months and was in a work-release program during most of his prison term.

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