3rd defendant gets 18 months in fatal beating Assault occurred at Christmas party

November 03, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A family-oriented Christmas party last year turned into the worst night of Karen Hammond's life when three men burst through the apartment door, beat up her husband and pushed a friend through a glass door, cutting him so badly that he bled to death.

"It was just a terrible tragedy, the kind of thing I'll never be able to forget," said Mrs. Hammond, 23, of Gambrills.

Yesterday, the third defendant convicted in the fatal assault on 37-year-old James Pope was sentenced in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to 18 months in jail.

Herbert Thomas, 29, of the 200 block of Croll Drive, Annapolis, was also ordered by Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. to serve five years of probation, pay $1,550 in court costs and attend alcohol counseling.

Thomas, who was starting his own ceramic tile-installation business at the time of the incident, will be allowed to work during the day and return to jail at night to serve his sentence.

Thomas apologized to Judge Thieme for showing up drunk last Thursday for his first sentencing hearing, causing postponement.

"I'd like to say I'm very, very sorry," he said.

According to court records, Thomas was at the party with the Hammonds and Mr. Pope in the Forest Village Apartments on Graff Court Dec. 18, 1992. He was forced to leave by the host after he got unruly.

Thomas caught up with his brother, James Thomas, and a friend, Douglas Palmer Sr., who had left the party earlier, and told them he had been beaten up at the party.

The three men and Mr. Palmer's girlfriend, Wanda Sherbert-Hall, left an Annapolis bar and drove to the apartment. They forced open the locked front door and began beating up Mr. Pope and Troy Hammond, 32.

Mrs. Hammond said when the group burst in, she grabbed her 4-month-old son, Christopher, and put him in a bedroom away from the fighting, then came out to the living room to try to help her husband.

"They just came in and started beating people up," Mrs. Hammond said.

The men pushed Mr. Pope through a glass door on a china cabinet, slicing an artery in his right arm. He bled to death in a matter of minutes, according to police.

Mrs. Hammond said yesterday she feels that Thomas should have been given a harsher sentence.

"If three people had just broken into the apartment and killed someone, it would have been treated much more seriously. Why should it make any difference that they [the defendants] had been here earlier?" she said.

All three men were originally charged with manslaughter, but agreed to plead guilty to assault and battery charges Aug. 24.

Assistant state's attorney Fred Paone said he accepted the plea because it would have been difficult to prove at trial which of the men actually pushed the victim.

Judge Thieme sentenced Thomas's brother, James Thomas, to a year in jail Oct. 22.

Ms. Sherbert-Hall, 30, whose last address was in Annapolis, was sentenced to 30 days in the county Detention Center after pleading guilty to a charge of misdemeanor breaking and entering.

Palmer, 31, was stabbed to death in his Annapolis apartment Sept. 28 in an unrelated incident.

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