A Howard County judge yesterday sentenced a Baltimore man to life in prison without parole for killing a 15-year-old Columbia girl in 1993 to cover up his unlawful sexual relationship with the minor.
Curtis A. Jamison, 30, showed no emotion as Circuit Judge James Dudley told him he could never hope to leave prison. He scratched his head with one finger and glanced at his mother, father and sister after hearing the sentence.
On the other side of the courtroom, tearful relatives of the victim, Tara Allison Gladden, greeted the ruling with the cry, "Yes!"
"It's the best possible news we could get out of this whole situation," said John Gladden, the victim's father.
Added his wife, Johanna Gladden, "It brings a sense of closure, but we still go on every day with the loss of Tara. It's something we will have to live with every day for the rest of our lives."
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Jamison killed Miss Gladden to avoid criminal charges from his sexual relationship with her. A 16-year-old girl testified that Jamison told her he planned to "get rid of" Miss Gladden for pressing charges against him. Jamison is serving a 20-year prison term for having sexual relations with two underage girls.
Judge Dudley yesterday had to decide whether to sentence him to life without parole or a life term that would have given him an opportunity to apply for parole after serving 15 years.
Prosecutors did not pursue the death penalty, saying last June that the crime did not qualify under Maryland law.
The judge said he was convinced that Jamison should never be eligible for parole because he committed his crime "for the purpose of executing a state's witness."
"That act alone makes the choice in this case no choice at all," he said.
Judge Dudley convicted Jamison on Oct. 24 of first-degree murder in Miss Gladden's death. Her body was found in a culvert under Columbia's Little Patuxent Parkway Aug. 17, 1993, almost a month after she disappeared from her Columbia home. Jamison was arrested after a 17-month police investigation.
He originally was scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 21. But his attorney, Edward Smith Jr., requested a postponement to seek a presentence report on the defendant's background, which the judge could consult before sentencing, from the state's Department of Parole and Probation.
In the end, the report made no difference, Mr. Smith said. It was not substantially different from a report prepared after Jamison's conviction on the sex charges.
At yesterday's sentencing, assistant state's attorney Michael Rexroad lashed out at Jamison, as he did during the trial, calling him a "manipulator" and "predator" of girls who destroyed the lives of Miss Gladden, her parents and 21-year-old brother, Shawn.
"It's the story of how one person could wreak untold destruction on the lives of so many people," Mr. Rexroad told the judge.
He said later that he hoped the sentence would give the Gladden family a good starting point to begin their healing process.
The family said it plans to donate $23,000 collected in an unused reward fund to public programs.
Mr. Smith said he plans to appeal the guilty verdict.