WESTMINSTER -- Guy Gordon Marsh, who served 14 years in state prison for a 1973 murder conviction that was eventually overturned, pleaded guilty yesterday to having sexual intercourse with his family's 13-year-old baby sitter. In exchange for pleading guilty to the charge of statutory rape, Marsh was spared returning to prison.
Carroll County Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. gave Marsh a suspended three-year sentence and placed him on three years of unsupervised probation.
Marsh, 45, gained Baltimore and then national attention when he was released from prison after serving more than 14 years of a life-plus-10-year sentence in the June 1971 slaying of Charles R. Erdman, who was shot when he tried to stop a robbery at a Glen Burnie 7-Eleven.
The conviction was overturned after a key witness at the trial admitted that she had lied. Anne Arundel County prosecutors decided not to re-try Marsh, saying they did not have enough evidence.
Since then, his story has been told on nationally syndicated television shows and he filed and lost a multimillion-dollar federal suit against an Anne Arundel County detective who was said to have coerced the lying witness.
The only evidence at the disposal of Carroll prosecutors for yesterday's trial would have been the testimony of the baby sitter, testimony both the prosecution and the defense said would be scrutinized by the jury.
Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill, who prosecuted the case, said the baby sitter -- who is now 15 -- agreed with the plea bargain.
In accepting Marsh's guilty plea, prosecutors dropped six of seven charges against him. Those charges carried a possible prison sentence of more than 70 years.
Marsh and his wife hired the 13-year-old girl to take care of their infant daughter in 1990, testimony showed.
On two days in August 1990, Marsh and the girl had consensual sex after watching pornographic video cassettes, court records said.
It wasn't until the girl told a cousin about the two encounters and the cousin told the girl's mother that police learned of the sexual intercourse.
Under Maryland law, a person is guilty of statutory rape if the victim is under 14 and is more than four years younger than the offender. The baby sitter was less than a week away from her 14th birthday.
Since leaving prison in 1987, Marsh said, he has made something of his life. He told Judge Burns before a sentence was handed down, "I would hate to count how many things I have done for the community."
He recently obtained a commercial driver's license, which will allow him to drive trucks. He has been self-employed as a mechanic. And, said Barbara Kreiner, the Carroll County public defender who represented Marsh, he has been "working hard to support his new family."
He married his wife in February 1990, and they have two children.