Commutation reversal sought in Harford Co. Schaefer action allowing parole for killer improper, Caroline prosecutor says

December 12, 1997|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The Caroline County state's attorney asked the Harford County Circuit Court yesterday to overturn former Gov. William Donald Schaefer's commutation of a double-murderer's sentence, which made the inmate eligible for parole.

On his last day in office, in January 1995, Schaefer violated the State Constitution by commuting, without notice, the sentence of Scott Fleming Caldwell from life in prison to 45 years, said Christian J. Jensen, Caroline County prosecutor.

Caldwell was convicted in 1973 of murdering sisters Patricia Lee, 18, and Cynthia Marie Dean, 13, during a robbery of their family's coin-operated laundry near Hillsboro, Caroline County, in 1972.

A Harford County jury convicted Caldwell. Judge Harry Dyer imposed two consecutive life sentences and a one-year concurrent sentence for carrying a handgun. Appellate courts upheld the conviction and sentence.

Schaefer's commutation, at the request of former Gov. Marvin Mandel, Caldwell's lawyer, surfaced in July when the killer was granted parole. A Caroline County grand jury declared that Schaefer had acted unconstitutionally.

In his motion filed yesterday, Jensen asked the Harford County Circuit Court to overturn the commutation and reimpose the original life sentences on Caldwell, who remains at the Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown.

Pub Date: 12/12/97

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