Hostage-taker takes plea bargain Man ruled not criminally responsible

May 07, 1993|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

A man who held 11 people hostage at the Bank of Glen Burnie in September was found not criminally responsible by a Circuit Court judge yesterday.

Under a plea agreement, in exchange for being found not criminally responsible, Darrell T. Cornish, 27, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, robbery with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment. He also pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three of the women in the bank.

Yesterday marked the second time Cornish has been found not criminally responsible of trying to rob a bank and holding its employees hostage. After an almost identical incident at an Annapolis bank in 1984, in which he held a teller at knifepoint and tried to rob the bank, he was ordered to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital for psychiatric evaluation. He was later placed in a Glen Burnie outpatient group home, where he was living at the time of the hostage incident.

Cornish, who was being held at Perkins pending yesterday's trial, was returned there after the hearing.

Yesterday, a grinning and laughing Cornish repeatedly turned in his seat to stare at three of the women who were inside the Glen Burnie bank with him. He said he was under medication that made him "understand what was happening."

The women, employees of the bank on Crain Highway, told the judge that they believed Cornish was responsible for his actions when he held them hostage for more than three hours Sept. 14.

"I can't tell you what this has done to 11 lives," said Janet King, the bank manager who was with Cornish until he was shot by a county police officer. "He did know exactly what he was doing. He made threats. My only fear is that he will go before another panel of experts who will say he is fine, and then he will do it again, and someone will be killed."

Eleanora Alberts, a teller, said she did not believe she would leave the bank alive.

"We believed, I believed, that I was going to die," she said. "It has affected all of us terribly, and it is something we will not get over for the rest of our lives."

Although he could not guarantee how much time Cornish would spend in a mental hospital, Judge Bruce C. Williams assured the victims that he did not think their assailant would be released soon.

According to a statement of facts read during the hearing by prosecutor Robert Bittman, Cornish, brandishing a knife, walked into the bank about 9 a.m. and announced a robbery. When police officers arrived, he was holding the knife on two of the women and ordered everyone into the vault. Police negotiated with him for several hours, giving him suitcases, bags and plane tickets.

The standoff ended at 12:40 p.m. when he was shot as he emerged from the vault.

In 1984, according to court records, Cornish was found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity after taking a woman hostage at knifepoint while robbing the Annapolis Bank and Trust branch on U.S. Route 50 at Cape St. Claire Road.

Cornish was released from the Crownsville Hospital Center on June 30 after staff members found he was no longer a danger to himself or others. He was placed in Omni House in Glen Burnie on condition that he continue outpatient psychiatric treatment and that he continue taking anti-psychotic medication.

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