Life term to sexual offender

June 29, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A man with a history of more than 30 years of sexual offenses and mental disorders was sentenced to life in prison without parole yesterday for attacking a woman in her Guilford home last summer.

Thurman Alexander Moore was given the sentence at a Howard Circuit Court hearing during which his attorney blamed the Aug. 31 incident on the way the criminal justice system handled his client's first case as a juvenile.

Moore's 30-year-old victim also blamed the system, saying after the hearing that if Moore was given a life sentence after his last conviction in 1974 she never would have been attacked.

"He should have been in prison," said the woman. "He should have stayed there. This is an example when the criminal is given too many chances."

The woman said she is satisfied by the sentence, but added that it has been difficult for her to overcome feelings of insecurity caused by the incident.

She noted that she and her husband have bought a security gate for their home. She no longer takes her two children to the neighborhood playground when no one else is there. "You're always looking over your shoulder," she said.

Yesterday, Moore was given the maximum sentence permitted under state law for a first-degree sexual offense and a third-degree sexual offense by Judge Cornelius Sybert Jr. Moore was given an additional 10-year term for a daytime housebreaking charge.

Moore, 47, of Guilford, had pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible by reason of insanity to the charges. But Judge Sybert ruled after a four-day hearing in April that Moore did not meet the standards for the plea.

Moore had gone to the victim's house after seeing her walk home from taking her daughter to Guilford Elementary School. Moore forced his way into the woman's house, repeatedly struck her and then sexually assaulted her, according to court testimony. The attack was stopped by three citizens who heard the woman's cries.

Moore, of the 9400 block of Guilford Road, had been released from prison about six weeks before the attack after serving most of a 25-year sentence for kidnapping and raping an 11-year-old Columbia girl in 1974.

In 1960, Moore was convicted of assault with intent to rape and sentenced to a two-year prison term. In 1962, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison on another charge of assault with intent to rape. That was followed by his conviction in 1974.

Assistant Public Defender Avery Berdit told Judge Sybert that his client had been a victim of racism, neglect and callous disregard in his 1960 case. Mr. Berdit noted that Moore, who is black, was 14 and showing signs of psychotic behavior when he was sent to an adult prison without any treatment for his mental disorders.

"His stage was set for failure," said Mr. Berdit, explaining that Moore in later years couldn't function without prison's structured environment. "He was brutalized by his experience. . . . Public safety was destroyed as a result."

But Assistant State's Attorney Kate O'Donnell argued that his criminal record shows that every time Moore was given a chance to straighten out his life he committed another crime. Ms. O'Donnell urged Judge Sybert to put the public before the defendant when casting his sentence for Moore.

"There is no hope, in the state's opinion, that Thurman Moore will ever be rehabilitated," Ms. O'Donnell said.

"This is one of the rare cases that you must consider us first."

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