Westminster man imprisoned for arson asks for shorter term

He has served a third of his 15-year sentence

June 15, 1999|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A Westminster man who has served more than five years of a 15-year sentence for burning down the Gamber home of his girlfriend's sister asked a Carroll circuit judge yesterday to reduce his term.

Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. listened as two former inmates and a prison minister testified that Walter Gilliam Mitchell, 42, has turned his life around and has helped in the rehabilitation of other inmates.

Mitchell's son tearfully testified for the modification request, saying his father has been incarcerated "for about 16 of my 21 years."

Burns also heard from the victim, Carolyn Brown, who said Mitchell's motive in burning the $180,000 house in 1994 was revenge. She said she was afraid of what he might do if he is released early.

Carroll State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes reminded Burns that Mitchell got a break, receiving a 15-year sentence when state guidelines allowed a maximum of 30 years. Barnes also said the term was meant to be punitive, not rehabilitative, because Mitchell had a long history of committing violent crimes.

Burns said he would issue a written decision.

Pub Date: 6/15/99

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