Man enters guilty plea in attacks

December 07, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A former Savage volunteer firefighter could be sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty yesterday to charges that he attacked two women who were prostitutes.

James Scott Botschen, 32, entered a plea agreement in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court on charges of attempted murder and attempted first-degree rape for the attacks.

In the agreement, Botschen could be sentenced to life in prison for each charge, with all but 40 years to be suspended. He will be permitted to serve the sentences concurrently.

Judge Raymond Thieme Jr. is to sentence Botschen on Feb. 14, after a report on Botschen is completed by the county Department of Parole and Probation.

The agreement covers charges that allege Botschen attacked four prostitutes on consecutive nights along a deserted cul-de-sac in Brooklyn Park in the first four days of September 1992.

In addition, the agreement includes charges in which Botschen was accused of beating a prostitute and leaving her for dead in Frederick County on May 25, 1991.

Prosecutors will drop 35 charges, including two counts of first-degree rape and numerous sexual offenses, as part of the plea agreement.

Botschen must serve at least 15 years before he is eligible for parole, under state law. He is expected to serve the sentence at Patuxent Institution, the state's primary rehabilitation prison in Jessup.

The agreement was criticized by the husband of the victim in the Frederick incident. He says the possible sentence is not enough to compensate the damage Botschen caused to his wife.

"I don't feel that's enough for what he's done," said the man, who married the woman shortly after the attack. "Her whole life is just destroyed."

Anne Arundel Assistant Public Defender Paul Hazlehurst said the decision to enter the agreement was influenced by the possibility that prosecutors could use letters written by Botschen graphically detailing the attacks at trial.

"Any time you have statements . . . it has to give you pause," Mr. Hazlehurst said, adding that Botschen decided against pursuing his initial plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity because of the difficulty of proving his condition.

Botschen appeared to listen intently yesterday as prosecutors from Anne Arundel and Frederick counties detailed the attacks and the police investigation that followed.

Anne Arundel State's Attorney Frank Weathersbee said state police troopers initiated the investigation on Sept. 4, 1992, staking out Swan Creek Road in search of an old yellow sedan.

The troopers began the stakeout after another prostitute reported being raped at knifepoint at the cul-de-sac in the early morning hours of the day before, Mr. Weathersbee said.

An employee at a nearby trucking company told the investigators that two women came to the business, saying they had been abandoned by a man on the two nights before the reported rape, Mr. Weathersbee said.

The victims told police strikingly similar stories. They reported that Botschen picked them up, engaged them in sex acts and then attacked them with a knife.

The troopers spotted the car about 2 a.m. as it drove down the street without its lights on, Mr. Weathersbee said.

After a few moments, the troopers approached the car, where they found a woman, partially nude, sitting in the vehicle's front passenger seat across from Botschen. She immediately got out of the car when the troopers arrived.

"'He was going to kill me' were the first words she uttered," Mr. Weathersbee said.

The woman, who admitted to being a prostitute, told the troopers that she met Botschen on a South Baltimore street, where Botschen propositioned her for sex, Mr. Weathersbee said.

Botschen drove the woman to the cul-de-sac, pulled out a 13-inch kitchen knife and ordered her to take off her clothing, Mr. Weathersbee said. He then took a Polaroid camera and ordered the half-naked woman to pose for a picture.

The picture, as well as pictures of two women in similar poses, were discovered in the car, Mr. Weathersbee said. The knife and a number of Savage Volunteer Fire Department shirts also were discovered.

In the Frederick case, Assistant State's Attorney Cheryl Hershey told Judge Thieme that another woman reported to police that she met Botschen in Baltimore on May 25, 1991.

Botschen drove the woman to a wooded area off Greenfield Road in Frederick, where he repeatedly beat the woman and injured her vagina, Ms. Hershey said. "He repeatedly punched her in the face." Botschen left the woman lying unconscious in a pool of blood, where she was discovered about two days later by two hikers, Ms. Hershey said. The woman, who was unable to move because of her injuries, was taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital, where she underwent surgery to reconstruct her vagina, the prosecutor said.

The investigation into the attack was suspended after police were unable to develop any leads, Ms. Hershey said. But the case was renewed after Botschen was arrested for the Anne Arundel attacks.

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