Man gets treatment program he doused wife with gasoline

June 15, 1994|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Sun Staff Writer

A 39-year-old Milford Mill man was placed in a yearlong treatment program yesterday for dousing his wife with gasoline, then threatening to set fire to his house when Baltimore County police arrived.

Ralph Louis Brown Jr., formerly of the 8800 block of Church Lane, pleaded guilty in April to one count of battery. He had also been charged with assaulting his wife, Lorretta, and threatening to commit arson.

Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger called Brown an angry and dangerous man, and said that in sentencing him he was "going way above the guidelines" of probation to two years.

Judge Bollinger then imposed a 10-year suspended sentence, allowing Brown to enter the residential treatment program, and ordered domestic-violence counseling, urinalysis and five years of probation.

He added a warning that any unlawful contact with the victim means a 10-year prison sentence.

Assistant State's Attorney Alexandra "Sandy" Williams played a tape yesterday of Mrs. Brown's 1:30 a.m. call to the 911 emergency number Oct. 29.

When the 911 operator called back, Brown repeatedly demanded, "Did she call you?" then said, "Send the forces over."

"She was soaked with gasoline from head to toe," Ms. Williams said.

Brown threatened to set his wife on fire and punched her in the face before she escaped from the house with their 5-year-old son. He then held police off for three hours by saying he had dumped gasoline on himself and the house and would light it.

"I'm now in counseling myself, and that's the only way I'm able to be here," Mrs. Brown told Judge Bollinger. "It hurts, and my husband's not a criminal, and I just want . . . to take care of my son.

"He says that he's sorry. He admitted to his attorney that he needs help, and he keeps saying it's my fault, and I don't want to hear that anymore. It's not my fault. He doesn't think he did anything. . . . I do not want sympathy or pity. I just want to live."

Brown then told the judge, "I started dealing with my problems. . . . I do not deny having caused the problems here." He grinned as he was led away after sentencing.

Ms. Williams had asked for a year in jail on work release, noting that Brown had been free without bail and in a substance-abuse program when he again threatened to kill his wife, and was jailed Friday.

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