Man guilty of shooting wife's lover

October 21, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

The Hampstead man accused of shooting his wife's lover to death last April pleaded guilty to second-degree murder yesterday in exchange for a jail term of no more than 15 years.

In a plea bargain reached more than a week ago, prosecutors dropped first-degree murder and manslaughter charges placed against Charles Albert Rhodes Jr. after the April 6, 1991 shooting of Steven Rupp. The prosecutors also agreed to a 12- to 15-year sentence for Rhodes.

If Rhodes, 44, had been found guilty of first-degree murder, he would have faced a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

After Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. accepted his plea, Rhodes was taken to the Carroll County Detention Center, where he will remain until his sentencing on Dec. 17. He had been free on bond since last year, and was said to be living with his wife and children.

"We're satisfied with the results," said Assistant State's Attorney Edward M. Ulsch. "We're happy with the outcome, especially considering the circumstances."

Rhodes had argued last year that he was not criminally responsible for the murder. His attorneys, Barbara Kreinar and Brian Green of the public defender's office, said they were pleased with the case's resolution yesterday.

The circumstances involved a love triangle at the Rhodes family home. For five years, Rhodes and his two children shared the Houcksville Road residence with Rhodes' wife, Dorothy Jean, and Mr. Rupp, her lover.

According to a statement of facts that the prosecution read to Judge Burns yesterday, Mr. Rupp and Mrs. Rhodes -- who shared a bedroom -- were drinking beer and talking with Rhodes on April 6.

An argument between Mrs. Rhodes and Mr. Rupp escalated to blows, according to the statement. At that point, Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Rupp began to fight. Mr. Rupp left the kitchen and went into one of the bedrooms down the hall, according to the statement.

During the argument, Rhodes hid his 8-year-old son behind a kitchen wall and told him, "Don't say a word."

Rhodes went to his bedroom, loaded his 20-gauge shotgun and went back to wait for Mr. Rupp to leave his bedroom, according to the statement.

When Mr. Rupp appeared in the hall, Rhodes attempted to fire the shotgun, but couldn't because the safety was on. He removed the safety, then shot Mr. Rupp twice in the face.

Rhodes then told his wife to call 911 and tell them exactly what happened.

Mr. Rupp's body was found in the hallway by police and an ambulance crew. He was 40.

Police arrested Rhodes at the murder scene after interviewing him for about 20 minutes in state police Cpl. Wayne Moffatt's police cruiser.

An autopsy report indicated that Mr. Rupp's death was caused by the two gunshot wounds, which "caused extensive injury to the brain."

Further tests showed that Mr. Rupp's blood-alcohol level ranged from 0.29 percent to 0.37 percent, almost four times the 0.10 percent used as the legal limit in drunken-driving cases.

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