Woman gets 14 years for role in murder Judge refuses to excuse defendant's drug habit, imposes maximum term

February 21, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

An Annapolis woman who admitted her role in a 1994 murder was sentenced to 14 years in prison yesterday by an Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge who said her drug habit was no excuse for her actions.

Wanda R. Hall, 32, of the 1000 block of Bay Ridge Road received the maximum sentence from Judge Bruce C. Williams for being an accessory after the fact to second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Susan McAteer of Annapolis.

"This is another tragic result of drug use, but I don't think we can look at this as just another case of drug use being responsible," Judge Williams said. "She was there, she helped dispose of the body, she helped burn the car, she was involved."

In addition to admitting her role in the murder, Hall also pleaded guilty Jan. 23 to malicious burning and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Hall was driving a borrowed 1993 Chrysler LeBaron with Ms. McAteer and Richard E. Janey on Dec. 21, 1994, when Janey and Ms. McAteer began quarreling about his pager and about Ms. McAteer's having broken a date with him, said Assistant State's Attorney Fred Paone.

Janey stabbed Ms. McAteer as she sat in the back seat.

Ms. McAteer, 29, of the first block of Southgate Ave., Annapolis, bled to death while Janey and Hall drove around looking for a place to hide her body, Mr. Paone said. They eventually dumped it in woods off Dubois Road outside Annapolis and burned the car, Mr. Paone said.

Ms. McAteer's body was found nearly a week later.

William McAteer, the victim's father, said yesterday that Hall deserved the 14-year maximum term because she withheld information about his daughter's whereabouts from police, while his family spent the 1994 Christmas holidays worrying about her.

"She had all that time, a whole week, to at least tell people where the body was, and she never did anything," Mr. McAteer said.

Janey, 30, of the 100 block of Obery Court in Annapolis, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Nov. 15, 1995, after he was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder.

Janey, who had been convicted twice in July 1994 of beating Ms. McAteer, implicated himself when he called police four hours after her body was found to deny any involvement and to point the finger at Hall, according to court testimony.

J. Michael Wachs, Hall's lawyer, told Judge Williams that during the 14 months she has been incarcerated, Hall has begun to turn her life around, becoming a Christian and participating in pastoral counseling.

Mr. Wachs said that at the time of the murder, Hall had a six-year history of cocaine abuse that forced her to live on the streets and support herself as a prostitute.

"She found herself in a position where she would either end up in jail or end up dead," Mr. Wachs said.

He asked that Hall be given a suspended sentence so that she could attend a 13-month drug rehabilitation program.

But Mr. Paone asked for the maximum sentence, telling the judge that Hall had a long history of "manipulating the system."

Mr. Paone said that in 1982 Hall tried to convince him that she and an accomplice charged with breaking and entering could not testify against each other because they were married to each other.

That turned out to be false, he said.

"I would ask the court, I would plead with the court, do not allow Wanda Hall to manipulate the system once again," he said.

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