Youth sentenced to life in slaying of rival suitor Families of both speak at hearing

January 19, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

Brian Arthur Tate, a former Broadneck High Schoo quarterback, was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for murdering a rival suitor.

Tate, 17, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court last fall after killing Jerry Lee Haines, 19, in a jealous rage.

Mr. Haines, was found stabbed 24 times and beaten to death Feb. 24, 1992 outside his home in the 1100 block of Summit Drive in Cape St. Claire.

Yesterday's hearing brought out at least 80 friends and family of the victim and the defendant. The defendant listened in silence as both families described the devastating impact the killing has had on their lives.

Tate kept his eyes on the table in front of him throughout most of the proceeding, dabbing at his eyes with a tissue only when his parents testified.

"I'm still not sure in my own mind what occurred," Tate said in a voice barely audible in the hushed courtroom. "I hope God forgives me, even though I know the Haineses never will."

His comments came at the close of a 90-minute hearing, where he was described by therapists as mentally ill and by the victim's brother as a "spoiled, rich little punk."

Tate had targeted Mr. Haines, driving to the victim's house and waiting for him, because the victim had been dating his former girlfriend, according to court records.

He had repeatedly threatened to kill Mr. Haines, shouting threats several times and at one point telling a friend he had sharpened a knife especially for the victim, according to testimony.

"I have to live with the fact that some spoiled, rich little punk used a knife and brass knuckles to kill my brother," said Michael Hill, one of the victim's three brothers.

Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. agreed to recommend that Tate serve at least part of the sentence at the Patuxent Institution, where he can be treated for mental illnesses.

The sentence means that Tate will be eligible for parole in about 15 years and may be transferred to Patuxent any time before then, said Assistant State's Attorney Eugene M. Whissel II.

The recommendation was sought by defense attorneys George Lantzas and Joseph Devlin, who had a psychiatrist and a psychologist testify that Tate suffers from personality disorders that make him explode in anger at slight provocation.

"The individual is likely to make a mountain out of a molehill is what it amounts to," said Dr. Michael K. Spodak, a Towson psychiatrist.

Neither Mr. Whissel nor the victim's family objected to the recommendation for Patuxent.

"I just hope he gets whatever treatment he needs so that he doesn't go out and kill somebody else," Mr. Hill said afterward.

Mr. Haines' mother said she continues to blame herself for her son's death and has been unable to put it out of her mind.

"There is not one night that goes by that I don't wake to his screams. I can't sleep. I walk the floors at night. I carry his picture. I ask God why, and I don't get any answers, so I just cry," Jackie Haines said.

Tate's father told the court how his son went through a dramatic personality change in the months before the killing, and he did not seem like the same boy he had reared and coached in football and Little League baseball.

"Mental illness has turned my son into a stranger to me," Arthur Tate said, fighting back tears. "I believe that the loving, gentle son is still there, struggling to get out."

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