Metheny gets 50 years in kidnap, assault Judge says criminal past figured in sentencing

January 09, 1998|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Describing Joseph R. Metheny as unrepentant and dangerous, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge sentenced the suspected serial killer yesterday to 50 years in prison for kidnapping, assault and threatening to rape a woman.

In imposing the maximum penalty, Judge John N. Prevas said he wanted to prevent Metheny "from doing this to anyone else, at least in my lifetime." Prevas said he also looked at Metheny's criminal history, which he said indicated a penchant for violence.

Past charges included assaults during barroom brawls and an incident in which Metheny hit a woman in the head with a bottle while he was in the Army, for which he received a court martial -- virtually all related to alcoholism and drug abuse.

Prevas said he did not take into consideration the two murder charges Metheny faces in April or that police say Metheny told them that he has killed as many as 10 people. Prevas said he looked at Metheny's record and the kidnapping and assault of Rita Kemper, 37, on Dec. 8, 1996, in his trailer in the 3200 block of James St. in Southwest Baltimore.

"I wouldn't wish being in that trailer that night with Mr. Metheny on anyone," Prevas said. "A horrible thing happened to Ms. Kemper."

Metheny, 42, who had grown a heavy beard and was dressed in the gray sweat shirt and sweat pants that he wore during his trial in November, sat with little emotion and did not comment during the sentencing. Lawyers at the sentencing said Metheny has tried to commit suicide three times in jail.

His lawyers said they were disappointed with the sentence and said they believed that Metheny's murder charges and status as a suspected serial killer were major factors in the tough sentence. They were seeking a five- to 10-year sentence.

"I think that 50 years is pretty severe," said Margaret Mead, one of Metheny's lawyers. "But I'm not surprised in light of what he is accused of."

Emmanuel Brown, one of the prosecutors, had sought an attempted murder charge against Metheny in his attack on Kemper. The jury found Metheny not guilty of that charge, but Brown said yesterday that he was glad that Metheny won't be allowed back on the street.

During the trial, Kemper said that early Dec. 8, 1996, she and Metheny were in his trailer to share drugs, but Metheny kept her against her will, hit her twice, demanded sex and threatened to sodomize her.

After Metheny was arrested on those charges, he also became a suspect in the killings of Kimberly Spicer, 23, and Cathy A. Magaziner, 39, who were found buried in the woods near his trailer.

In 1995, he was charged with killing two 33-year-old homeless men, Randall Brewer and Randy Piker, but was acquitted.

Pub Date: 1/09/98

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