Despite his insistent protests that he did not commit the crime, Brady G. Spicer was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 30 years in prison yesterday for beating Annapolis tavern owner Francis "Bones" Denvir over the head with a bottle.
Mr. Denvir was hit on the head more than 25 times with a liquor bottle as he was signing paychecks in the upstairs office of Armadillo's, a downtown Annapolis restaurant and bar. The attack on Feb. 22, 1990, was so severe that most of his facial bones had to be reconstructed.
In a victim-impact statement read by Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner, Mr. Denvir spoke of "four weeks of lying in the hospital thinking 'Why? Who would do this?' " Two years later, he said, he suffers from constant sinus problems, glaucoma in both eyes and loss of peripheral vision.
After the sentence was handed down, Mr. Denvir said that given the limits of the judicial system, the outcome was fair. "I think within our guidelines and in our society . . . it was a just sentence for the crime," he said.
Before his sentencing at yesterday's hearing, Spicer, 36, of the 1100 block of Madison St. in Annapolis, pleaded with Judge Lerner for another trial, saying he had new evidence that was not presented at the original trial in May. An eyewitness had testified that Spicer sprinted away from the the restaurant after the assault. Spicer said that since injuring his knee in 1988, he is unable to run.
"I can't run. I'm willing to take a treadmill or whatever is necessary," Spicer said.
A witness also identified him as being 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 170 pounds. Spicer said he is 6 feet 3 1/2 inches and 251 pounds. "The last time I was 5-9, I was 13 years old," he said.
He also said an inmate at the Anne Arundel Detention Center provided him with new information within the past week that would exonerate him. Spicer's lawyer, James S. Salkin, asked for a two-week continuance to investigate the new information, but his request was denied.
Mr. Salkin added several other reasons for a new trial. He argued most vigorously against the credibility of the state's prize witness, a jail house informant named Larry M. Brown Sr., who testified in return for receiving a suspended 20-year sentence on three drug charges.
Mr. Salkin argued that during the trial he was not aware of the exact nature of the charges dropped against Brown, and if he had known, would have hammered at Brown in cross-examination.
He also argued he was not informed that Judge Lerner had presided over both this case and the informant's plea bargain, and felt that the judge did not give him enough latitude in his cross-examination of the informant.
Mr. Salkin also attacked Brown's credibility, saying Spicer was convicted with perjured testimony. "Larry Brown, the linchpin in the case, is a person who has to be looked at with extreme severity," Mr. Salkin said.
Judge Lerner denied the motion. "The jury heard the evidence. I didn't convict him," he said. He also doubted the credibility of Mr. Spicer's 11th-hour information. "In jail they tell you anything. . . . they're not the most honest people down there."
Despite a probation department recommendation of a sentence between 12 and 20 years, Assistant State's Attorney Steven M. Sindler asked for the maximum penalty. The only difference between assault with intent to murder, of which Spicer was convicted, and murder was that Mr. Denvir lived.
"In this case, there can be no doubt, there can be no hesitation in anyone's mind, that Mr. Spicer intended to kill Mr. Denvir on the day of the crime," he said.
Before he was sentenced, Spicer addressed Judge Lerner a final time, his voice choking with emotion. When the trial started, he had just been released from the Eastern Correctional Institution on a drug charge.
"I was only home for 12 days, 12 days with my wife. And I told her I wanted to come here because I knew I was innocent," he said. In every other case he faced, he said, he pleaded guilty "because that is the only way I knew I could get a fair deal. Now I'm getting a raw deal."
Mr. Salkin said he has filed an appeal with the Court of Special Appeals. He said he is fairly sure an innocent man has been sent to jail.
"This is not the kind of evidence on which you convict a person in the courts of the United States," he said.