Two convicted killers whose apparent escape plot was thwarted by sheriff's deputies yesterday at the county courthouse had no reason to be brought to court in the first place.
The men, both serving life sentences, had been scheduled to appear yesterday for arraignment on charges of attempting to escape last year from a state prison in Jessup. But court records show prosecutors dropped those charges last week.
Gregory M. Shipley, spokesman for the state Division of Correction, had no immediate explanation yesterday for why David Allen Reinhardt and Al Wayne Doering were transported from the Maryland House of Correction Annex to the county Circuit Court.
"I assume they were being brought to court because there was a summons for them to appear in court," he said.
But court files provided a possible explanation. Notification that the men's cases had been dropped was faxed last week from the county Circuit Court Clerk's Office to the Anne ArundelCounty Detention Center -- and not to state prison officials.
After the men were brought to the courthouse in Annapolis yesterday morning, sheriff's deputies working in the basement lock-up overheard prisoners saying Reinhardt and Doering were planning an escape, said J. Patrick Ogle, county undersheriff. A strip search of the men uncovered two homemade handcuff keys, several homemade lock picks, needles and a razor blade that had been sewn into the lining of their clothing.One of the men also had a stone, apparently used to sharpen objects,hidden behind the face of a broken wristwatch, Ogle said.
Taking no chances that the men might be hiding other items in their clothing, sheriff's deputies ordered the men to wear hospital gowns borrowed from the nearby Anne Arundel General Hospital & Medical Center, Ogle said.
Ogle said Reinhardt, in an apparent attempt to escape while being led from a van into the courthouse lock-up, pretended to trip and fall and grabbed a state correctional guard and reached for the man's gun. But, Ogle said, the guard had already checked his gun in thelock-up, and his holster was empty.
Ogle said state correctional officials would decide whether to press further criminal or administrative charges against the men. He added that an investigation is under way to determine how the men obtained the weapons and homemade keys.
Both men were convicted of first-degree murder, armed robbery and burglary in the 1986 shooting death of an 89-year-old Baltimore County man. Reinhardt, 25, formerly of Joppa in Harford County, was sentenced in 1987 to life plus 40 years in prison. The triggerman, Doering, a 26-year-old with no fixed address, is serving a sentence of lifeplus 30 years following a 1988 Court of Appeals ruling overturning his death sentence.
Explaining his decision to drop the attempted prison escape charges against the men, Assistant State's Attorney Patrick J. Bell noted their lengthy sentences and said, "If they really want to escape, the easiest time to escape is when they're being transported around for insignificant trials."