Sentence reduction denied for man convicted in wife's death

October 12, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A Marriottsville man serving a five-year prison sentence for causing his wife to fall from a ladder to her death in 1992 lost his bid in Howard Circuit Court yesterday for a reduced sentence.

John Carroll Calhoun, 53, asked Judge Raymond Kane Jr. for a shorter sentence so he could help raise his two children, who are in temporary custody of a Mount Airy couple.

Calhoun was sentenced to 10 years in prison -- with half of the term suspended -- after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter in June 1993. He originally was charged with first-degree murder in the May 13, 1992, death of Gladys Esther Calhoun, 45.

"Nothing that has developed since [the sentencing hearing] leads me to believe that the sentence should be reconsidered," Judge Kane said. "I don't believe it was inappropriate."

Calhoun, who has served 16 months of his sentence, was denied parole after an August hearing, his attorney, Jonathan Scott Smith, said yesterday.

Mrs. Calhoun struck her head on scaffolding after falling from a 16-foot aluminum ladder outside the couple's Thompson Drive home. The incident occurred during an argument in which Calhoun kicked the ladder.

During pretrial hearings, investigators testified that Calhoun told them that he did not call immediately for medical help. Relatives found his wife's body hours later.

Police testified that Calhoun confessed after they confronted him with a note showing that Mrs. Calhoun knew that he had an affair with a co-worker at the National Security Agency at Fort Meade. Detectives also said they had learned that Mrs. Calhoun once stated that if she died unexpectedly, her death would not be an accident.

"I regret the actions I took on that 13th of May," Calhoun told Judge Kane. "I've learned a lot about responsibility and results of actions."

Kate O'Donnell, senior assistant state's attorney, told Judge Kane that the prosecution and the victim's family were "adamantly opposed" to Calhoun's request for a reduced sentence.

But Mr. Smith told Judge Kane that his client's five-year sentence was beyond the prison term recommended by the county Department of Parole and Probation before his June 1993 sentencing hearing.

The report recommended a sentence of between three months and four years, Mr. Smith said.

The attorney said Calhoun has been serving his sentence without incident at the Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, where he works in the prison library.

Before going into prison, Calhoun received a court order giving temporary custody of his children -- ages 12 and 14 -- to a Mount Airy couple he met through a church in Ellicott City.

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