Pipe-bomber, hoping to reduce prison term, gets 7 more years

January 05, 1994|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

The leader of a white-supremacist church who sought a reduction of his 18-year prison term for two pipe-bombings instead received a sentence increase of seven years yesterday.

Charles Edward Altvater, 32, head of the Baltimore Church of the Creator, had pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court in June to the Essex-area bombings of a county police officer's house and a state trooper's patrol car Nov. 5, 1992.

At one time, Altvater was in line to become a national leader of the Church of the Creator, which attacks blacks, Jews and others, according to Assistant State's Attorney Mark H. Tilkin.

The explosives used against the two police officers had been intended for use during the church's "Rahowa," a "racial holy war" in which whites would kill all nonwhites. But Altvater became enraged at police after two officers told him not to drive with a flat tire, then towed his car after it wound up in a ditch.

At Altvater's Aug. 4 sentencing, Mr. Tilkin sought maximum consecutive terms totaling 25 years for reckless endangerment and possession of a pipe bomb. Judge J. Norris Byrnes instead gave Altvater 18 years in prison.

Yesterday, three judges of the court reviewed the case, conferred with Judge Byrnes, heard arguments, then decided to impose the maximum sentence.

Judge Dana M. Levitz, chairman of the panel, said the decision was unanimous "because of the facts of the case."

Noting the racial-war aspect and the potential for injuries at the officer's home, Judge Levitz said, "We just felt like not only the conduct was outrageous, but this was one scary guy, and he should get the maximum sentence that the law allows."

Assistant Public Defender Rodney C. Warren declined to comment.

According to the statement of facts, two county patrol officers stopped Altvater at 1:30 a.m. Nov. 5, 1992. After his car was towed, he began a series of calls to 911 emergency operators and state police. At 3:30 a.m., he was thrown out of the Essex precinct house as a nuisance.

At 5:30 a.m., the first bomb blew out the windshield of the trooper's cruiser parked on South Marlyn Avenue.

Twelve minutes later, the second blast damaged the door, a glider and awning at the county officer's home in Country Ridge Estates, off Back River Neck Road. The officer, his mother and his sister's three children were asleep in the house.

Neither the county officer nor the trooper had been involved in the traffic stop, but they lived near Altvater.

No one was injured in either bombing.

Police seized two rifles and three handguns, racist newspapers and T-shirts, and 92 quarter-stick explosives -- each the equivalent of almost a quarter stick of dynamite -- from Altvater's house in the 1400 block of Strawflower Road and from another house on Valley Arbor Court.

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