Judge criticized for leniency in unruly courtroom behavior of robbers

July 25, 1993|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

Two robbers who repeatedly shouted profanities and threats during their May trial and had to be forcibly removed from the courtroom should have received stiffer sentences for making a mockery of the justice system, says a state prosecutor.

Assistant State's Attorney William G. Christoforo criticized Circuit Judge Maurice W. Baldwin's refusal Thursday to consider the unruly trial behavior of co-defendants Mark J. Woodlock, 29, and Aaron T. McCoy, 32.

The two Philadelphia men were convicted May 28 of robbing P.M. Creations, a jewelry store at the Festival in Bel Air.

Evidence showed McCoy and Woodlock used Mace while stealing two bracelets worth about $6,000.

Battery and theft charges were merged with the robbery count.

Judge Baldwin sentenced Woodlock Thursday to concurrent 10-year prison terms for robbery and conspiracy to rob.

The judge cited Woodlock's criminal record -- 10 convictions, mostly for theft -- as a reason for the full 10-year term.

Judge Baldwin gave McCoy concurrent six-year sentences on the same charges.

rTC The judge said he preferred "to err on the side of caution" and not consider the defendants' courtroom behavior in his decision.

Mr. Christoforo argued for stiffer penalties because of the defendants' courtroom behavior and details the jury was not permitted to hear as evidence during the trial.

5l The men, he contended, had tried to ram a state police car during a high-speed chase as they fled north on Interstate 95 in Cecil County after the robbery.

"I think a wrong message is going out to criminals that they can act just about any way they want in the courtroom and it won't matter," Mr. Christoforo said.

"I believe Woodlock and McCoy got sentences that were too lenient."

During their two-day trial, Woodlock and McCoy shouted so many profane threats and obscenities that Judge Baldwin had them handcuffed and shackled and removed from the courtroom several times.

After Woodlock and McCoy persisted, the judge also ordered them gagged.

When that failed to stop their outbursts, the judge ordered them from his court, with the stipulation that they could return only if they behaved.

It took six deputies to remove the defendants, prodding them with an electronic stun gun to subdue them.

With four sheriff's deputies in the courtroom Thursday, neither defendant was disorderly.

Judge Baldwin declined to comment on his decisions.

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