Carjacker gets 27 years, is first convicted in Md. under U.S. law

December 05, 1997|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

A federal judge sentenced a Baltimore man yesterday to 27 years in prison for two violent downtown carjackings, the first case to be prosecuted successfully in Maryland under the federal carjacking statute.

Harold L. Wright, 33, described by prosecutors as a career criminal, approached female motorists in both incidents in daylight and held them at knifepoint, according to a statement of facts presented in U.S. District Court in Baltimore before Judge Marvin J. Garbis. Wright was convicted of two counts of carjacking by a federal jury Oct. 9.

In one of the attacks, on April 29 at a parking lot in the 1200 block of N. Charles St. in Mount Vernon, Wright stabbed the motorist after she screamed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio said.

The woman was stabbed in the leg with such force that the knife cut off a piece of bone in her kneecap, court papers said. Wright then drove off in her 1990 Plymouth Colt station wagon.

Wright committed the other carjacking five days earlier near Charles and Eager streets, also in the Mount Vernon area. In that case he dragged the victim a short distance as he held on to her while driving away in her 1993 Volvo station wagon, court papers said.

Federal legislators adopted the carjacking statute to provide stiffer penalties for people who commit violent car thefts. Parole is not available to those convicted of federal crimes.

Carjacking may be prosecuted as a federal crime because most cars are shipped across state lines before being sold, so they are considered "interstate commerce." When crimes are committed affecting interstate commerce, federal agencies have jurisdiction.

Pub Date: 12/05/97

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