Woman leaves prison for drug treatment, as promised in deal Her testimony helped convict Janey in killing

May 07, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County police officers whisked Wanda R. Hall to an unidentified drug treatment center in Virginia yesterday after a circuit judge cut short her 14-year prison sentence and approved what prosecutors termed a "necessary evil."

Hall, 35, of Annapolis, swapped her testimony against a murder defendant for prosecutors' support of her bid to leave prison after serving about 3 1/2 years for her part in the killing.

"Cases of this nature never leave me comfortable," Judge Ronald A. Silkworth told Hall, who testified in February that she drove a borrowed car while Richard E. Janey, 34, stabbed another woman to death in the back seat in December 1994.

Then she helped dump the body, burn the car and hide the crime. She pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the murder and other charges.

"She has fulfilled her side of the bargain," Assistant State's Attorney Fred Paone said. "The state intends to fulfill its side of the bargain."

When planning Janey's trial -- actually, a second retrial -- prosecutors said they were unsure whether they could convict him without Hall's testimony. After Janey was convicted of second-degree murder in the slaying of Susan McAteer, 29, and sentenced to 30 years in prison, they acknowledged that Hall had helped.

Hall's agreement calls for her to "testify truthfully" again if Janey's expected appeal leads to another trial. Janey's conviction for second-degree murder in 1995 was overturned on appeal. Last year, in a second trial, a jury could not reach a verdict on the charge. Janey was tried a third time in February.

Hall is a crack cocaine addict and prostitute who sought out a church-related residential drug treatment program that was not named in court. All documents about it were sealed to prevent Janey from learning Hall's whereabouts.

Hall told the judge she wanted to turn her life around and that she had completed every available prison program but needed this "steppingstone in my life."

Silkworth suspended the balance of her sentence and placed her on five years' supervised probation, making the drug treatment a condition of probation.

Pub Date: 5/07/98

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