A Circuit Court judge who sentenced Kevin Michael Briscoe to life plus 30 years for the April 1990 murder of a Columbia woman reduced his sentence yesterday by 20 years.
Briscoe, 27, who was convicted of felony murder in the April 1990 death of 44-year-old Pamela Mary Barker, was sentenced to life in prison in April by Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. Judge Kane also imposed the maximum sentences of 20 years for robbery with a deadly weapon and 10 years for burglary, to be served consecutively.
The new sentence makes Briscoe eligible for parole in 21 to 23 years, said Paul Davis, chairman of the Maryland Parole Commission. Under the original sentence, Briscoe would have been eligible for parole in 28 to 31 years.
At yesterday's hearing, Briscoe's defense attorneys, Craig Gendler and Linda Ostovitz, argued that the original sentence was illegal, and Briscoe should have received a straight life sentence.
Mr. Gendler said that Judge Kane should not have imposed separate sentences for the robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary convictions. Both convictions should have merged into the felony murder count, he said.
A conviction on charges of felony murder means that the murder arose out of the commission of a felony, Mr. Gendler said.
Judge Kane granted the defense's request to vacate the 20-year sentence for robbery with a deadly weapon, but refused to strike the 10-year burglary sentence. Briscoe's sentence is now
life plus 10 years.
Assistant State's Attorney Christine Gage agreed that the robbery with a deadly weapon conviction should be merged with the felony murder conviction, but she objected to the merging of the burglary sentence.
During Briscoe's trial, Ms. Gage said, she argued that the murder arose out of the felony, robbery with a deadly weapon, and that the burglary was a separate act.
However, the jury's verdict didn't indicate which felony -- robbery with a deadly weapon or burglary -- they believed to be the underlying felony.
Judge Kane said he assumed the jury agreed with Ms. Gage's argument that the robbery with a deadly weapon count was the underlying felony.
Ms. Barker, a program analyst with the Health Care Financing Administration, was found stabbed to death in the bedroom of her home in the 9700 block of Basket Ring Road.
Briscoe's co-defendant, Brian Jordan, was convicted of first-degree murder in Ms. Barker's death in March. He was sentenced to life plus 30 years.