Fugitive who fell out of ceiling into police hands gets 18 months

March 15, 1995|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A Baltimore man was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison for fleeing from the Howard Circuit Courthouse and then leading authorities on a four-day manhunt in September.

Richard Allen Shrout, arrested after falling from his hiding place in the ceiling of a Baltimore County motel, was sentenced after his conviction at a one-day court trial.

Shrout, 23, was sentenced by Carroll County Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr., who handled the case to avoid a conflict for Howard court officials, some of whom were witnesses of the Sept. 8 escape.

The 18-month sentence that Shrout must serve at the Howard County Detention Center sharply contrasts with the eight- to 10-year term sought by the prosecution.

Shrout, however, urged Judge Burns to give him a lesser sentence. He acknowledged that he has a lengthy criminal record, but noted that he never injured anyone or used drugs.

"I apologize for this," Shrout said. "What can I say? People get scared and they run.

"I ain't perfect."

Shrout said the state prison sentence sought by the prosecution would do him more harm than good.

"What does the [Maryland] Division of Corrections do?" he questioned. "Teach you to do bigger and better crimes. . . . I'm not a bad guy."

But Assistant State's Attorney Mary C. Reese said Shrout should receive a stiff sentence because of his criminal record, which shows 12 prior convictions, mostly for theft and unauthorized use of vehicles.

Ms. Reese estimated that authorities spent 217 staff hours to capture Shrout.

On the day of the escape, a Baltimore bail bondsman brought Shrout to the courthouse in Ellicott City after he failed to appear at a Sept. 1 court hearing.

Sergeant Randolph Roby, supervisor of the criminal section of the county Sheriff's Office, testified that he served Shrout with an arrest warrant for a burglary case after taking Shrout to the Circuit Court clerk's office and making sure that he received a hearing notice.

Shrout, who was not wearing handcuffs or leg irons, ran out of the courthouse as Sergeant Roby was leading him to the sheriff's office, the sergeant testified.

Sheriff's deputies, police officers, park rangers, search dogs and two police helicopters searched for Shrout but were unable to find him until a tipster reported that he was staying at Tim's Motel in Halethorpe.

Police went to the motel on Sept. 12 and arrested Shrout after the drop ceiling above which he was hiding collapsed under his weight.

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