Runaway teen remains on probation instead of being returned to prison

September 04, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Timonium teen-ager Jane Frances DeCosta, convicted as an accessory in the 1995 murder of a Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital counselor, remains on probation after a hearing before a Baltimore County judge yesterday, a week after she fled the county while waiting to testify in an unrelated case.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Barbara Kerr Howe could have sentenced DeCosta, who turned 18 on Wednesday, to finish her five-year sentence in prison for last week's flight, which ended with DeCosta's arrest in Washington on Monday.

Instead, DeCosta will remain in the county detention center for several weeks until a new placement in a locked psychiatric facility in Virginia can be arranged, according to court documents and lawyers in the case. DeCosta's five years of probation will continue, and her inpatient psychiatric treatment was extended from March 1 to June 1999.

Assistant State's Attorney S. Ann Brobst said she had recommended an unspecified penalty for DeCosta's flight from her parents' Timonium home, where she was staying last week. Howe said she felt betrayed by DeCosta.

DeCosta was convicted as an accessory after the fact in the killing of Sharon Edwards, a 26-year-old single mother and counselor in her first week at a new job at Sheppard Pratt. She was stabbed 26 times by Benjamin Scott Garris, then 16, who is now serving a life sentence without parole. DeCosta told police she supplied the knife.

After her conviction, DeCosta was sent to a locked Florida mental health facility until she came home temporarily last month to testify in an unrelated case.

Pub Date: 9/04/98

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