Ex-athlete gets 30 years in killing of cellmate

Former school halfback was in jail on drug charges when stomping occurred

June 29, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A one-time halfback for Annapolis High School was sentenced yesterday to 30 years in prison for stomping to death his cellmate at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.

Keith Lomax, 27, of the 1800 block of Copeland St. in Annapolis told Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Robert H. Heller Jr. that he was sorry for killing Russell Six, 28, of the 8300 block of Dock Road in Pasadena.

Lomax blamed mental instability for his deadly outburst April 21, 1998, and his attorney, Julian B. Stevens, blamed a decadelong downward spiral caused by drugs.

In seeking the maximum 30-year sentence for second-degree murder, Assistant State's Attorney Frank Ragione said the killing was so ruthless Lomax "forfeited his right to live in society." State sentencing guidelines called for a 20- to 30-year sentence, and Heller said he would not be able to look at his reflection in the mirror if he ordered anything short of the maximum.

Lomax was awaiting trial on drug charges when he woke Six with a punch that April day. Wearing boots, he stomped on Six's head, sending the landscaper into a coma for four days. Lomax thought Six was spreading a rumor about Lomax being sexually involved with another inmate, Ragione said.

Six was preparing to be released from jail. He had been in court a day earlier for a probation violation hearing, and had received a suspended sentence. He had been on probation after a burglary conviction.

Charged with first-degree murder, Lomax pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder. Other charges were dropped as part of a plea bargain.

Stevens persuaded the judge to recommend that Lomax be considered for Patuxent Institution, which has therapeutic programs. He said Lomax had long-standing alcohol, heroin and cocaine problems that began after his authority-figure football coach, Joseph Alvin Laramore Jr., died in January 1989. Lomax was a halfback, and Laramore was credited with not only having the most wins of any coach in the county, but also combining intimidation and affection to keep his players winning and in line.

"When the coach passed away, he went wild," said Richard Lomax, the defendant's father. "I appreciate what the court has done for him."

Members of Six's family sat somberly in court yesterday and declined to discuss the case.

The murder was the first in at least 15 years at the county jail outside Annapolis.

Pub Date: 6/29/99

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