Suspect freed early under Md. guidelines HOWARD COUNTY

September 03, 1993|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Staff Writer Staff writers Alan J. Craver and Marina Sarris contributed to this article.

Thurman Alexander Moore, charged this week with a brutal attack on a Howard County woman, had been freed five years before the end of a 25-year prison sentence under the state's mandatory sentencing guidelines.

Moore was convicted of rape and kidnapping of an 11-year-old Columbia girl in 1974 and had served about 20 years when he was released from the Patuxent Institution July 14.

Once free, Moore was urged to receive counseling at the Howard County Mental Health Clinic and continue to take anti-depressant medication, according to institution officials. County officials, however, would not say whether Moore did either.

"The state could no longer legally hold him," said Leonard Sipes, spokesman for Public Safety and Correctional Services. "For all intents and purposes, his sentence expired."

Yesterday, Moore was in jail again, on charges of assault with intent to rape, a first-degree sex offense, assault, and breaking and entering.

Both Moore, 47, and the victim, 30, live in the Guilford area of Howard County.

Police say the victim had returned home Tuesday afternoon after taking one of her children to kindergarten. Neighbors who heard her screams went to her rescue and found her covered with blood. William Burley, the owner of a nearby barbecue restaurant, subdued the suspect.

Mandatory release, which is different from parole, involves an offender who has served the bulk of his sentence, minus "diminution of sentence" credits. Prisoners earn those credits by good behavior and by participating in education, work and other programs.

"I don't know what the answer is," said Joseph Henneberry, Patuxent Institution director. "People think, 'Oh, no! Patuxent's letting them out again.' Well, it's not that way. When you get a guy whose sentence maxes out, what can you do?"

Generally, offenders who are freed under mandatory release have served more of their sentences than parolees.

Inmates can accumulate as many as 15 days a month toward early release, based on good behavior. The average inmate earns about seven days a month, Mr. Sipes said. Moore earned enough days for a mandatory release almost five years early.

Doctors at the Patuxent Institution, where Moore had been staying since July 1992, saw no indication of mental delusion or disorder that posed a threat to society, according to institution officials.

Moore was one of nearly 230 male and female inmates housed at Patuxent for treatment of mental disorders. The program, established between Patuxent and Maryland's correctional institutions, began in December 1991. Each prison maintains emergency beds in its health facilities. Housing inmates at Patuxent was done as a cost-cutting measure, Mr. Sipes said.

"When you concentrate your resources in one area, you can provide better services," Mr. Henneberry said.

Even if Patuxent officials believe an inmate is not ready to be released, they cannot keep the person if a mandatory release order is issued.

Doctors at Patuxent gave Moore a five-day supply of anti-depressants, and then sent him on his way, institution officials said. That was July 14. On July 19, he was scheduled for a visit with the Howard County Mental Health Clinic.

The clinic would not comment on whether Moore was a patient. County Executive Charles I. Ecker said he plans to see whether Moore kept the appointment.

"I am aware of the individual's [Moore's] background," Mr. Ecker said. "I'm briefed on serious crimes. This one is definitely serious.

"I will check into it, to see if in fact he had an appointment and if in fact he did go there," he said.

A relative with whom Moore was living was responsible for making sure that he kept that appointment and others, authorities said.

"The relative provided some sense of assurance that she would assist the offender in making the best use of the services," Mr. Sipes said.

Moore was also required to meet at least twice a month with a Division of Parole and Probation agent.

"He was under intensive supervision," said Mr. Sipes, adding that Moore had met the terms and conditions of his release until Wednesday's incident.

Moore got a job with a Taco Bell restaurant along U.S. 1 in Jessup, about two miles from where he lives with his parents in the 9400 block of Guilford Road, Assistant State's Attorney Cindy Johnson said.

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