A New York man pleaded guilty yesterday in the slaying of state police Cpl. Theodore D. Wolf and was sentenced to life in prison as part of a deal with prosecutors that angered the trooper's widow.
Francisco Rodriguez, 21, of the Bronx, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Howard County Circuit Court.
He is eligible for parole under the sentence, but he must first finish a 15-year federal sentence on unrelated drug charges.
Ginny Wolf, the trooper's widow, called the sentence "extremely lenient."
She had appealed to Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. to reject the plea agreement, which the judge sealed.
"I just think this points out one of Ted's major concerns -- the leniency of the criminal justice system toward violent criminals," Mrs. Wolf said. "I believe that Ted was sold out for whatever reasons, in the interests of economics or time."
Friends of the slain trooper distributed fliers with "Sold Out" stamped in red across his photo outside the courthouse.
Corporal Wolf, 40, was shot twice in the head March 29, 1990, after he had stopped Rodriguez and Eric Tirado for speeding on Interstate 95 in Jessup.
The two men were heading home to New York from Virginia in a stolen Chevrolet Nova.
Identified as the gunman in the shooting, Tirado, 27, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced last July to life in prison without parole after a seven-week trial.
Mrs. Wolf said she was particularly frustrated that the terms and conditions of Rodriguez's plea agreement are under a court-ordered seal, which in her opinion eliminates any accountability.
"The state's attorney's office has failed to convince me that this is in the interest of justice," she said.
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Timothy G. Wolf said that the lTC terms of the plea were placed under seal for "institutional security reasons" and added that the seal prohibits him from elaborating.
He said that the disposition of the case was appropriate, after weighing all the factors involved.
"I think everything was done for a good reason; I know Ginny Wolf is not happy with it," Mr. Wolf said. "The definition of a good compromise may be when all the parties are mutually unhappy -- that may be the situation here."
Judge Kane could not be reached for comment.
Rodriguez expressed remorse for his crime before Judge Kane imposed the sentence.
"I'm very sorry for the pain I have caused," he said in a soft voice.
In a statement of facts read in court yesterday, the prosecutor said that Tirado decided the trooper would have to be killed after the two men were pulled over about 3:45 a.m. Tirado and Rodriguez stopped the Nova, and both men got into Corporal Wolf's cruiser.
Tirado, sitting in the passenger seat next to Corporal Wolf, fired two shots with a .347-caliber Magnum handgun at point-blank range into the trooper's face while Rodriguez sat in the back seat.
After the shooting, Tirado picked up Corporal Wolf's citation and warning books and drove with Rodriguez to Lansdowne, where they abandoned the car. They made their way to Baltimore and had relatives in New York wire them money to get home.
Mr. Wolf said that Rodriguez confessed his role in the shooting to Edgar Duvarie, a former friend and co-worker of Tirado's.
Mr. Duvarie, a key state's witness at Tirado's trial, said that Tirado and Rodriguez shot the trooper because both men were soon to begin serving sentences on weapons convictions and didn't want to risk any more jail time.