Ex-teacher in Baltimore Co. pleads guilty to stabbings

April 29, 1994|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Sun Staff Writer

A former substitute teacher at Johnnycake Middle School pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of attempted murder in the slashing of the principal and an assistant principal last November at the school.

Terrance Leroy Arter, who turned 26 yesterday, was arrested after he burst into school offices and attacked the two victims with a butcher knife in front of students, parents and school staff.

Before his plea, Arter appeared bewildered on the witness stand as he was questioned about giving up his scheduled jury trial. Baltimore County Circuit Judge Dana M. Levitz interrupted the proceedings to have Arter confer again with his attorneys and family members.

Accepting the plea, Judge Levitz ordered a pre-sentence investigation -- to include a psychiatric evaluation -- and agreed to sentence Arter to no more than 20 years on June 16. Each attempted first-degree murder count carries a possible life sentence.

Arter of the 3300 block of Windsor Blvd. in the Westview area was found competent to stand trial, but told the judge, "I have a nervous condition," and "I was really upset at the time, and I didn't mean any harm."

"What I'm saying is, is, is this is really confusing. But even if I tell them that I am very sorry and I apologize for the incident because I was upset about my job, I mean, why would they have me for 20 years?"

Arter had been a substitute teacher at the school in the 6200 block of Johnnycake Road near Westview about five times in October before he was terminated for problems with his work, said a statement of facts by Assistant State's Attorney Sue Hazlett. A formal letter of termination was being prepared, and he was told to stay away from the school.

But Arter returned Nov. 18, looking for work, the prosecutor said, and returned five days later.

Just after 10 a.m. Nov. 23, he burst into a conference room where Principal Gilbert Proudfoot, a school counselor, a psychologist and two parents were meeting.

Yelling, "I want my job back. They can't do this to me. I want my job back," Arter demanded to meet with Mr. Proudfoot, who told him to make an appointment, Ms. Hazlett said.

She said Arter then pulled a butcher knife from under his coat and lunged at the principal, saying, "I'm going to kill you." The principal suffered a minor leg wound, as the others fled and called police.

At the time, Ms. Hazlett noted, 300 seventh-graders were changing classes in the hall and six students were in the office.

Arter then entered the office of Assistant Principal Ethel Reed, who also was meeting with parents, and began to slash at her.

She was cut on the right hand before the father of a student pinned Arter against the wall, holding him for the police. But the parent could not remove the knife from Arter's grip -- even after banging his arm, Ms. Hazlett said.

Defense attorney Jacob Miliman had no corrections to the statement of facts, and declined comment after the plea bargain was accepted.

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