The latest installment in the twisted saga of a Baltimore family unfolded yesterday when Lawrence Banks entered an Alford plea in connection with the shooting death of his 17-year-old son.
The son -- who with his sister had sparked an investigation by lodging abuse allegations against his father -- was found shot to death in his foster home Nov. 19.
Banks entered the plea, in which a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to obtain a conviction, in return for a sentence of not more than 20 years in prison.
Banks, 39, is also charged in the shooting death of an Anne Arundel County man earlier on the day his son was shot.
His daughter, 16, has accused him of sexually and physically abusing her, and court records show Banks was sentenced to a 15-year prison term in 1976 for throwing the daughter, then an infant, through a window.
The body of Banks' wife was found hanging in an apartment closet in 1976, a prosecutor said, adding the woman had been strangled but that the case remains open.
As he left the courtroom, Banks complained about being "convicted on the accusations."
Sharon A. H. May, an assistant state's attorney, said Banks' son, Lawrence Foster, was found shot to death in his foster home in the 3500 block of W. Northern Parkway.
The boy, who had been studying at home because of a broken leg, was found crouched in the corner of the kitchen, his hands covering his face. He had been shot in the head.
The man's daughter was in school at the time of the shooting, which apparently occurred about 10 a.m., Ms. May said.
The shooting took place a week after a judge had placed the son and daughter, who had been living with Banks' mother, in foster care.
During a court hearing, social workers presented a petition in which both children complained that their father had abused them, leaving Banks "irate," Ms. May said.
An investigation showed that Banks, of the 1600 block of E. Federal St., had been drinking since early in the morning on the day his son was shot.
He and his brother-in-law, Charles E. Pannell, were charged in the shooting death of Michael J. Chisholm, a drinking partner whose body was dumped on the side of a road in Pasadena early Nov. 19, Anne Arundel County prosecutors said.
Pannell, 47, pleaded guilty in July to being an accessory after the fact to murder in Mr. Chisholm's death. Banks has not been tried in that case.
Baltimore Circuit Judge John N. Prevas ordered a presentence investigation and psychiatric evaluation for Banks in preparation for his Nov. 2 sentencing in his son's death.