Suspect set free by mistake voluntarily appears for trial Sheriff's deputies return him to corrections division

November 15, 1997|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

A slaying suspect who was erroneously released from the Maryland Penitentiary in a records blunder showed up for his trial yesterday, and it was no thanks to criminal justice authorities -- he went to court on his own.

Larry George Owens, 24, known as "High Top," is being held at the Baltimore City Detention Center awaiting trial, now scheduled for Feb. 4. Yesterday's case was postponed because of Owens' disappearance and because of scheduling conflicts with other trials on the Baltimore Circuit Court docket.

"We give credit to the media for generating the publicity and note that the word unfortunate is an understatement in this case," said Leonard A. Sipes Jr., spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Said Owens' attorney Kirk D. Crawley: "I said, 'Larry, I'm really happy you showed up.' [Owens is] a fortunate defendant who got a little time on the street."

About 8: 15 a.m. yesterday, Owens met bail bondsman Ricky G. Wormley, an associate of Crawley's, at North and Patterson Park avenues. They arrived at Baltimore Circuit Court at 9: 15 a.m. and were met by city sheriff's deputies.

Owens was taken to Judge Joseph P. McCurdy's courtroom and was turned over without incident to officers from the Division of Corrections.

After realizing their error Tuesday, correctional officials searched for Owens until he turned himself in yesterday. He was the third inmate to have been mistakenly released in the past month and a half.

All three inmates turned themselves in after hearing news reports that police were looking for them.

Owens was awaiting a second trial on charges that he fatally shot Keith D. Minor, 26, in a New Year's Eve drug dispute at a house at 4306 Pimlico Road. His first case ended in a mistrial Aug. 21.

On Sept. 22, Owens was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison on a drug charge in an unrelated case. Four days later, he was transferred to the penitentiary. After receiving credit for time served, he was released by officials who could find no record of the murder charge.

Since Sept. 30, Owens of the 4100 block of Pimlico Road in Northwest Baltimore was free, awaiting his trial in the murder case. Public safety officials suspended a senior case manager as a result of Owens' release and are continuing their investigation.

Pub Date: 11/15/97

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