Judge surpasses state guidelines in sentencing He calls murder attempt 'calculated, coldblooded'

August 14, 1998|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

As Beverly C. Peters sat partially paralyzed in a Baltimore County courtroom yesterday, her gaze never seemed to leave the two men convicted of shooting her in the head and leaving her in Woodlawn Cemetery.

For the first time since the shooting, Peters, a former FBI employee who lives in Randallstown, went to court where she watched Circuit Judge J. William Hinkel sentence John E. Montague and Hosea Wells.

Montague, a 31-year-old auto mechanic, received a life sentence plus 20 years, while Wells, 21 and unemployed, received a 50-year sentence.

"This is not a chance meeting at Woodlawn Cemetery. This was a planned, calculated, coldblooded, execution-style attempt to kill a 40-year-old woman," Hinkel said before pronouncing the sentences.

In explaining the prison terms -- which went beyond state-recommended guidelines -- the judge said that Peters' "confidence was betrayed by Montague," whom she had befriended.

He also noted the only motive presented by prosecutors for the shooting was Montague's desire to steal Peters' red sports car.

Peters, who was shot in the head and pushed down a 40-foot embankment at the cemetery Sept. 24, was found by two off-duty police officers who were bowhunting nearby.

During their trials, Montague and Wells admitted being involved in the shooting, although it was never established who pulled the trigger.

Peters did not address the judge before sentencing. Sitting in her wheelchair outside the courtroom after the sentencing, she said she was pleased with the prison terms but wished the men had been eligible for the death penalty.

"I wish they could have gotten the chair," she said.

Peters' cousin Krystal Wilkerson told Hinkel that Peters' retired parents spend their days taking care of their daughter, who is paralyzed on her left side.

"This is a cowardly thing they did. They have yet to look at her" in the courtroom, Wilkerson said of Montague and Wells.

Lawyers for the two men, while acknowledging the seriousness of the crimes, argued for sentences that were within state-recommended guidelines.

Montague's lawyer, Timothy M. Gunning, asked for a sentence ranging from 20 to 35 years, while Wells' lawyer, public defender Edward T. Barry, sought seven to 13 years.

Before he was sentenced, Wells turned to Peters and her family, saying, "I'm really sorry for what happened. I pray for you all to try in your heart to forgive me."

Montague said, "I have remorse. I did pray from the moment it happened that she'd be OK."

Pub Date: 8/14/98

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