Man charged for third time with threatening to kill judge

March 21, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

For the third time in five years, a Northwest Baltimore man has been jailed for allegedly threatening to kill Robert F. Sweeney, the now-retired chief judge of the District Court of Maryland.

The man -- who has been convicted twice on the charges and spent time in prison -- is apparently enraged at the 70-year-old judge because he had been placed on a list of fathers who owed child support.

But Sweeney, who retired in September after leading the court system for a quarter-century, said yesterday that he has never had the suspect in his courtroom. He said the anger may stem from a failure-to-appear notice the man once received with the chief judge's signature.

"I don't know the basis for his objections of my existence," said Sweeney.

Derek Leroy Tucker, 26, of the 4000 block of N. Edgewood Road, was arrested Monday and charged with threatening the life of a public official, which carries a maximum three-year prison sentence.

A district judge ordered Tucker held in the Baltimore City Detention Center without bail and ordered a psychiatric evaluation. His court date is scheduled for April 18.

In January 1995, Tucker was convicted on the same charge -- also involving Sweeney -- and sentenced to three years in prison. His sentence was retroactive to November 1994, and he was released in August after accumulating good behavior and work credits.

In 1992, Tucker was sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to threatening and trying to bribe Sweeney.

The most recent case began March 14 when Lonnie Ferguson, the chief District Court administrative clerk, reported receiving a handwritten letter addressed to Sweeney at the District Court building on Wabash Avenue.

"The text of the letter is handwritten and explains that the writer is on the list for back child support and that Judge Sweeney is to blame as Judge Sweeney was responsible for placing the writer in jail," according to court charging documents filed in court this week.

"The letter ends with, 'I'll kill you and that's not a threat, it's a promise,' " the documents say. "The letter is signed, 'Mr. Dead Beat Dad.' "

Pub Date: 3/21/97

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