WESTMINSTER -- Jonathan Monroe's words were choked with tears as he implored Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. to spare him from having to spend any more time behind bars.
After all, the 21-year-old told the judge, he has been locked up for two of the past three years, and he was "tired of being in there."
Dressed in jeans and a turtleneck, the divorced father was begging for leniency Wednesday as Judge Beck mulled what kind of sentence he should impose for an assault conviction.
"I'm trying so hard to change," Monroe said. "I want to start my life over again."
His new life will have to start a little later -- Judge Beck sentenced him to six months in the Carroll County Detention Center. And while he suspended all but 90 days of the sentence, Judge Beck wasn't entirely convinced Monroe has actually changed much from his violent, drug-plagued teen years.
"If you're sincere about changing -- and I'm not convinced that you are -- you'll have to find out about programs available to you at the detention center," the judge said.
The sentence stems from a long-standing feud of sorts between Monroe and another South Carroll family. Monroe was convicted of assault two years ago after he had been involved in a fight.
Relatives of the other person in the altercation, Monroe's attorney said, would taunt him wherever he went. And that, said public defender Edward Barry, is what started a period of threats and counter threats.
"This family pursued him, threatened to physically harm him and, on one occasion, threatened to kill him," Mr. Barry said.
Prosecutors say Monroe crashed a Taylorsville party Aug. 30. At the party were members of the family that Mr. Barry said were threatening Monroe.
Monroe got into a car to escape verbal taunts by one of the family members, Keith L. Douglas, Mr. Barry said. While in the car, Monroe took what he initially thought was a rifle, and stuck the barrel in Mr. Douglas' face in the hopes of "scaring him away."
The rifle, according to Mr. Barry, turned out to be a BB gun.
Monroe was charged with assault and with carrying a deadly weapon. The deadly weapon charge was dropped and Monroe was found guilty of assault by Judge Beck on April 21.
"He knows he's got a lot on his record, and that looks bad," Mr. Barry told the judge. "But he does have a sincere desire to turn his life around."
For much of his adolescence, Monroe was hooked on crack cocaine, Mr. Barry said. He did not graduate from high school, but obtained his high-school equivalency diploma. He grew up in the Mount Airy area, but, he told the judge, he left the town to try to start his life anew.
"It was getting so that every time something went wrong in
Mount Airy, they came looking for me," Monroe said.
He has a 3-year-old son, and now lives with his aunt and uncle in hTC Frederick. For several months, he has worked for his uncle's construction company. Judge Beck allowed him to continue working by ordering work release.
Monroe faces three violation-of-probation hearings as a result of the most recent assault charge. He could face close to three additional years in prison if he is found guilty of violating probation.
"He still has many legal problems that will occupy him for some time," Mr. Barry said. He said that is why he asked the court "to be as lenient as possible."