Robber's release rankles victim

December 12, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Laszlo Gregor is constantly reminded of the armed holdup at his North Laurel service station eight years ago by the ringing in his ears and the bullet lodged in his rib.

Last week, the 56-year-old operator of the Johns Hopkins Texaco station was given another reminder of the robbery when a Howard Circuit Court judge ruled that his assailant should be released from jail.

Mr. Gregor thinks the ruling is outrageous.

"The guy shoots me, and he gets away scot-free," said Mr. Gregor, who lives in Columbia. "The bottom line is he didn't even serve a minimum sentence. It's not fair."

Mr. Gregor said he could accept a lenient sentence for a first-time offender but not for a man who had carried out at least two other holdups since 1980.

Judge James Dudley issued a ruling Tuesday that Theodore Kit Jr., 36, must be released from the state Division of Corrections after serving about half of a 15-year sentence for the shooting of Mr. Gregor.

Mitchell Egber, a public defender who specializes in post-conviction cases and represents Kit, said Judge Dudley had to order the release of Kit because of rulings from the Court of Special Appeals.

But the issue is not settled. County prosecutors are waiting to see whether the state attorney general's office will pursue an appeal of the state court's ruling, and Kit may not be released from prison until the appeal is settled.

Assistant State's Attorney Shawn Larson, who handled the case, did not criticize Judge Dudley's ruling, but he did attack the state case that served as the basis for the decision.

"I think [the state case] is the most ridiculous ruling ever made," Mr. Larson said. "We should not be burdened by Virginia's parole considerations. That's not our law."

Kit was sentenced to 30 years in prison for assault with intent to murder in August 1988, with half of the term suspended. He was permitted to serve the time while he completed a 19-year term for a Fairfax, Va., bank robbery, which occurred about one week after the North Laurel holdup.

The Lanham man, who was on parole for a 1980 holdup at the time of the robberies, began serving his Virginia sentence in 1985 but was paroled in 1991. He was then transferred to Maryland, where he petitioned the court for his release. He argued in court papers that he should get out of jail because his Maryland sentence is bound by the terms of his Virginia sentence.

Judge Dudley agreed, citing a Court of Special Appeals ruling that says inmates serving concurrent sentences must be paroled on both sentences when they complete the primary term.

Mr. Larson said the attorneys originally involved in the Kit case intended for the defendant to finish his Maryland sentence if he were released from jail in Virginia early. But Judge Dudley said the lawyers were under the "misapprehension" that Kit would have to return to Maryland to be independently reviewed for parole eligibility.

The case that served as the basis for the Kit ruling involved Anthony Parker, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder in Baltimore County in May 1984. He was allowed to serve the sentence while he served a separate 20-year term in a federal prison for a bank robbery.

Transferred to Maryland

Parker, also represented by Mr. Egber, was released from the federal prison in 1991 and then transferred to Maryland to finish his term. Like Kit, Parker sought his release from prison and won it in September 1992 when the appeals court issued its ruling.

In the Parker case, the court ruled that defendants serving concurrent prison terms can satisfy the second sentence while serving the balance of the first sentence on parole.

Mr. Larson and Mr. Egber said they don't think the Parker and Kit cases will turn the courts away from giving defendants concurrent prison sentences, even if one of the offenses occurred in another state.

But they noted that the courts will learn to be very specific when issuing sentences to make it clear that inmates will still have to finish their Maryland sentences if they get out of jail early in another state.

'No reason to shoot me'

But for Mr. Gregor, who was not aware of Kit's efforts to get out of prison, the ruling brings back memories of the October night Kit came to his business in the 10900 block of Johns Hopkins Road, at first acting as a customer and then pulling out a .38-caliber handgun.

Mr. Gregor, sitting in a small office while counting the day's receipts at the time, recalls putting his hands into the air and the man ordering him not to move.

He remembers the flash and the loud boom when the man fired. He remembers the bullet striking him and the tingling sensation he felt as blood spilled from his wound. He lay still, checking every few minutes after the shooting to see if Kit was still around.

"He had no reason to shoot me," said Mr. Gregor. "He had me at gunpoint. There wasn't a damn thing I could do about it."

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