'Notorious fainter' stands for sentence of 7 1/2 years

February 10, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

An Essex woman who became a fixture in Baltimore County courtrooms with a quarter century of arrests for drunken driving, resisting arrest, bad checks, disorderly conduct and other offenses, drew a 7 1/2 -year term yesterday on her first felony conviction.

And she didn't faint.

Marilyn Boardwine, 50, whose penchant for swooning before judges has made her a dubious celebrity in courthouse circles, swayed and wept but stayed on her feet yesterday as she pleaded with Judge John Owen Hennegan in an effort to stay out of prison.

She was convicted by a Circuit Court jury Dec. 9 of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and driving while her license was revoked.

Dressed in jeans, a white blouse and leg shackles, Mrs. Boardwine told the judge, "I have had an alcohol problem for many, many years. . . . It's behind 90 percent of everything in my record. . . . I've been in jail four months, and I've had a lifetime to think. At 50, 25, 30, my life could have been different.

"But I need help. There's no help for me at Jessup [site of the the women's prison]. I can't get an education at Jessup," she pleaded before saying, "I'm sorry" and dissolving into tears.

Assistant State's Attorney Terrence J. King asked the judge for a sentence within the state's guidelines: from 12 to 20 years on the drug charge, plus time for the driving charge.

"What strikes me," Mr. King said, "is that for the good part of more than 25 years, it's everybody's fault but hers: her sister, her father, her husband -- even the old magistrate system for not giving her treatment.

"She keeps going out and doing the same things. She's getting in fights; she's driving when she's not supposed to. All these things involve choices, and all those choices led her down the path that brought her here today."

Although she swayed on her feet with her eyes closed, Mrs. Boardwine didn't faint -- her signature response in many previous court appearances. Still, three courtroom deputies -- one more than usual in anticipation of the event -- moved in to surround her as the sentencing was completed.

Afterward, defense attorney T. Wray McCurdy agreed, "She's a notorious fainter."

After a lifelong problem with alcohol, he said, Mrs. Boardwine finally dried out several years ago -- but then began using cocaine.

Her criminal record began with a 1966 assault, he said, and includes 40 charges of bad checks, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, malicious destruction of property, assaults, driving while intoxicated -- and four previous charges of driving while her license was revoked.

"But she was getting 30 days suspended, a $10 fine, and she won a few here and there. There was no probation" in the old magistrate system that predated today's District Court, he said. "It was just '30 days, suspended, and stay out of trouble.' "

She was so well known to local police, her attorney noted, that the current case arose because the arresting officer knew her license had been revoked: "He'd arrested her at least a dozen times before."

Mrs. Boardwine, most recently of the 600 block of Lanoitan Road in Middle River, was stopped driving home from a visit to her husband, who was in the county jail, Mr. McCurdy said. She was charged with possessing an ounce of cocaine and a distribution list.

Judge Hennegan gave Mrs. Boardwine a 15-year sentence on the drug conviction and suspended all but seven years. He also gave her two years on the driving charge, suspending all but six months.

Deputy State's Attorney Howard B. Merker, a veteran prosecutor who has fought other bouts with Mrs. Boardwine, said later: "She personifies the type of person who has been given multiple chances by the courts to rehabilitate themselves and continues in a life of crime. The only appropriate action to take for her now is incarceration."

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