A 26-year-old Baldwin man received a life sentence yesterday for sexually attacking a Towson-area middle school student in a parking garage stairwell at Towson Town Center last year.
Daniel G. Brunner Jr. was convicted in March of a first-degree sex offense against the youth, now 14, who had gone to the mall with his parents to spend money after receiving a good report card.
Baltimore County Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull II said he was "aghast" when he read the presentence report on Brunner's background.
It includes reports of abuse by Brunner's father and a rape by an older youth, the judge said, as well as Brunner's attacks on younger boys when he was a juvenile.
Brunner of the 12900 block of Fork Road continued to say that he was innocent in the Feb. 28, 1994, attack. He cried and said he was afraid of the people in prison.
"I had a really bad childhood; I lost my childhood," he said, adding that he planned to study zoology and get a job at the zoo. "When I was a kid, the only friends I really had were animals, because I could talk to them, and they wouldn't judge me and they wouldn't hurt me. Please, please don't take away my adulthood."
Defense attorney Anton J. S. Keating asked the judge to issue a sentence below the 10- to 18-year guidelines, but Assistant State's Attorney John P. Cox asked for the life term.
Both used Brunner's past in their arguments.
Mr. Cox said "bizarre sexual behavior" made Brunner a danger to society -- especially his reported "urges when he sees young boys walking in malls."
The prosecutor also noted "his cruelty to animals" -- including the reported hanging of a Doberman pinscher dog when Brunner was a juvenile.
He said Brunner already has had treatment, but failed to pursue follow-up care or to take medications.
Mr. Keating said Brunner had been traumatized by sexual abuse, and described him as depressed and suicidal.
Mr. Cox retorted, "He's probably feeling what [the victim] was feeling on Feb. 28. He has taken the childhood away from another young man."
Mr. Keating said Brunner will appear today in Carroll County on charges that he molested three boys in the Hampstead-Manchester area last year.
The youth in the Baltimore County case identified Brunner as his assailant when he saw an Oct. 28 broadcast of the arrest in Carroll.