Killer has 15 years added to life term Ex-girlfriend, her lover were slain

June 22, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A Columbia man was sentenced to 15 years in prison yesterday after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the June 1989 shooting death of his estranged girlfriend's lover.

The sentence for Walter Thomas Harding, 31, was tacked onto the life term he received in February for killing the girlfriend.

"I want to pay for what I've done," Harding told Judge James Dudley during a hearing in Howard Circuit Court.

Judge Dudley said the court must make an example of Harding to show others the significance of the lives he took.

"There has to be a message from these cases that other people can benefit from," the judge said.

Carmini S. Jackson, 21, and her lover, Andre Mann, 21, were fatally shot in a Columbia parking lot in front of 12 people.

Harding was originally charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Defense attorneys argued at Harding's trial that the defendant was a desperate man at the time of the killings, so distraught at the thought of losing Ms. Jackson and their 3-month-old daughter that he succumbed to his emotions.

Harding was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in July 1991, and was sentenced to life without parole. He then appealed to the state Court of Special Appeals.

The appellate court affirmed Harding's conviction in the Jackson slaying, but overturned the conviction in the Mann slaying, saying the jury had not been instructed properly.

Harding had to be resentenced for Ms. Jackson's murder because his first sentence covered both slayings. Judge Dudley sentenced Harding in February to life in prison plus 20 years for a weapons charge, but made him eligible for parole.

The plea agreement issued yesterday voids the appellate court's order for a new trial in the Mann slaying.

At yesterday's hearing, Assistant Public Defender Louis Willemin asked Judge Dudley to permit his client to serve the 15-year sentence while he is serving the life sentence.

"Mr. Harding was under a great deal of stress," Mr. Willemin said. Assistant State's Attorney Bernard Taylor, however, argued that Harding should serve the sentences back-to-back, and the judge agreed.

Mr. Taylor noted that Harding had threatened to kill Ms. Jackson and Mr. Mann shortly before the shooting.

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