Judges reject Tracy's sentence reduction plea Panel argues that his murder of a student was 'planned and brutal'

July 19, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

In a May letter from his cell at the Maryland Penitentiary, convicted murderer Brian Tracy, serving two life sentences plus 40 years, asked Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. to take pity on him.

"Your honor, I beg you, act swiftly and decisively. I recognize my abilities and I know, I am positive, that I can do great good in the world," he wrote in an attempt to persuade Judge Burns to reduce his sentence. "I have met people who have been completely wasted by being hear [sic] too long."

But Judge Burns and Circuit Judges Francis M. Arnold and Raymond E. Beck Sr. last week refused to shorten the time Tracy, 21, is to spend behind bars, calling his crime "a planned, brutal and senseless murder."

By affirming the sentence in a written opinion filed Thursday, the three judges ensured that Tracy, who was convicted of the Nov. 22, 1987, shooting death of South Carroll High School student Richard Purman, will not be eligible for parole for at least 30 years.

Tracy and fellow Sykesville Shelter Home residents Brian Richard Jordan and Dawn Torres escaped from the home with the intention of stealing a car and driving it to California.

They called Mr. Purman, a classmate who was known to be helpful, and asked for a ride. After inducing him to drive them to a wooded area, Tracy shot him in the chest and dragged his body into the weeds.

All three youths were 17 at the time of the murder.

Jordan and Tracy were convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon, unlawful use of a handgun and related charges.

Both received two life sentences and several 20-year sentences. The Court of Appeals upheld all convictions except for the conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon.

The case of Torres, who cooperated with the state's attorney's office, was heard in juvenile court.

Thursday's opinion came more than seven months after Tracy appeared before the three-judge panel seeking his sentence reduction, at which time he had spent about four years in jail. Tracy has exhausted all avenues for reconsideration of his sentence.

"There is no hope for him," said Martha Ann Sitterding, Tracy's public defender. "That's going to be his life forever."

She mailed the decision to Tracy on Friday afternoon.

For Mr. Purman's father, the decision was a welcome one.

"I'm glad they upheld the sentence," Jim Purman said Friday afternoon, minutes after learning of the judges' five-page opinion. "I would hope he's not out on the street while I'm still alive. And while I feel sorry for the pain Tracy's parents must feel, if it were up to me, I'd do the same thing [the judges did]."

Mr. Purman has sat through the trials of Tracy and Jordan, their sentencings and their requests for reduced prison time. Throughout each session, he said he had "done everything I could do" to let the judges and the killers know what they took away on Nov. 22, 1987.

State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman, who described the killing as cold-blooded, also was pleased with the judges' ruling.

"All of us involved in this case are pleased because this man has got to be punished," he said. "The defendant is a very, very dangerous individual. The longer he's kept out of society, the better off we all are."

Jordan's sentence modification hearing was in December. Judge Burns' decision is pending.

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