Man whose murder conviction was overturned is sent back to jail

June 14, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

Guy Gordon Marsh, released in 1987 from the Maryland Penitentiary where he served 14 years for a murder conviction that was later overturned, was sentenced yesterday to return to prison for three years.

The sentence was imposed by Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. because Marsh's battery conviction -- he was found guilty in March of beating his wife -- violated the terms of the three-year probation he was serving since 1992 when he pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Judge Burns yesterday also sentenced Marsh, 47, to three years of supervised probation on the battery conviction. After a daylong bench trial March 16 at which Marsh's wife declined to testify, Judge Burns convicted him of one count of battery.

Yesterday, Marsh was defiant and insisted that the state owes him for the 14 years of "unfair" incarceration stemming from the 1973 murder conviction.

He told Judge Burns and Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill that he "never had any chance at all" when he pleaded guilty two years ago to having sex with a teen-ager and that the system has always had something against him.

"Yes, I had sex with a young woman," Marsh said. "I had to choose the lesser of two evils, and I chose to be on the streets raising my family."

The "lesser evil" was the guilty plea to second-degree rape, which bought him three years of unsupervised probation as well as the suspended three-year prison term Judge Burns reimposed yesterday.

All Marsh had to do to meet the terms of his probation in the rape case was "obey all laws," court records indicate. Being convicted of battery broke the rules of probation.

Marsh and his wife, Mary, have been married for 13 years. According to testimony at his battery trial, the marriage has been rocky, but the couple seemed to work things out. During a quarrel last year, Marsh is accused of hitting his wife and throwing her against the wall and floor of a bathroom in their home near Westminster.

Ms. Marsh fled with the couple's two children -- 2 and 4 years old -- March 18, Marsh said yesterday. Prosecutors say she left because Marsh beat her after the two returned from court March 16; Marsh says his mother-in-law persuaded her to leave. Ms. Marsh and the children are now living with a relative in Oklahoma City.

In a rambling, sometimes tearful interview before he was sentenced yesterday, Marsh said he's always tried his best since he was released from prison.

"I'm not perfect," he said. "But I love my wife and kids, I really do. But what do you want? The state of Maryland stripped me of all my civil rights. Nothing was there for me when I went in [to prison] and nothing was there for me when I got out."

Marsh gained national attention when he was released from prison in 1987 after serving more than 14 years of a life-plus-10-year sentence.

That sentence stemmed from the June 1971 slaying of Charles R. Erdman, who was shot when he tried to stop a robbery at a Glen Burnie 7-Eleven.

The conviction was overturned after a key witness admitted she had lied in her testimony.

Anne Arundel County prosecutors later decided not to retry Marsh because they felt they did not have enough evidence to convict him.

Marsh's attorney, M. Gordon Tayback of Baltimore, said his client will ask Judge Burns for a modification of the sentence.

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