Teen pleads guilty in wounding of girl Suicidal adolescent asked the defendant to kill her for $89

June 25, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

An 18-year-old fast-food clerk from Lothian was sentenced to 14 years in prison yesterday for shooting and wounding a suicidal teen-ager who had paid him $89 to kill her.

William Jacks Jr., of the 1200 block of Marlboro Road, pleaded guilty before Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme to attempted murder in the shooting of a 16-year-old Edgewater girl.

April Ward, who has since turned 17, was treated at Prince George's Trauma Center for a bullet wound to the chest after the 10: 45 p.m. shooting on Dec. 30. The bullet struck her under her collarbone, near her right shoulder, and pierced her lungs, police said.

In court, county Assistant State's Attorney Laura Kiessling said the shooting was planned a short time beforehand as the two teens were working together at a Wendy's restaurant on Route 2 in Edgewater. Jacks jokingly mentioned that he would kill Ward for cash and she told him that she wanted him to do it.

Kiessling said that Jacks and Ward then negotiated the $89 price and that he drove her to three locations before he found a suitable spot, a secluded tract in the 3500 block of Loch Haven Road in Edgewater.

"This was a planned event. The defendant was cold. He was calculating, and he shot a 16-year-old girl in the chest with a gun he kept in his house," Kiessling said.

After the shooting, Jacks, then 17, ran from the scene when a car approached, according to police.

Kiessling said that before he shot her, Jacks had Ward write two suicide notes. He turned himself into police the next day only because he knew they were looking for him, she said.

Jacks said yesterday that the shooting was an accident and that he only meant to scare the victim.

"April came to me crying for help, but I took her cries as a joke and the end of the joke wasn't very funny," he said.

Jacks' parents sat shaking their heads in disbelief after the sentence was pronounced. They said later that they were stunned by its severity.

"It's much too harsh," said William Jacks Sr. of Lothian.

He said he is convinced his son meant to scare Ward out of committing suicide.

He said his son pleaded guilty to avoid the mandatory five-year prison term he would be given if convicted of the handgun charge, which prosecutors agreed to drop in exchange for the guilty plea.

He said he felt his son could get less than five years because the shooting was an accident and that he came to court yesterday hoping he would be sentenced to house arrest.

"He's maintained from the beginning that this was an accident," he said.

But the victim's father said the sentence was a fair one.

David Ward said his daughter, who spent three months after the shooting under psychiatric care at Sheppard Pratt Hospital, is still seeing a psychologist and has a fear of leaving home.

"She has to be very sheltered," he said. "Anyone who gets shot, it's a prolonged experience, and I think it's going to be a long time before she gets over this."

He said at the time of the shooting, his daughter needed psychological help, but that she confided her suicidal wish to the wrong co-worker.

"She opened up to someone and he took advantage of her," Ward told Judge Thieme.

Pub Date: 6/25/96

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