Former psychologist pleads guilty to aiding boyfriend's prison escape

January 12, 2000|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A former prison psychologist admitted yesterday that she helped her inmate paramour and another convict escape from the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup -- avoiding a trial that threatened more public detail of their relationship and her life.

Elizabeth L. Feil, 42, pleaded guilty in Anne Arundel County Circuit to one count of serving as an accessory after the May 18 prison break.

In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped a second accessory charge and two counts of harboring a fugitive.

Feil picked up the inmates -- convicted robber Byron Smoot, an armed robber serving 29 years and with whom she had exchanged more than 100 love letters, and his killer-cellmate, Gregory Lawrence -- after the pair climbed over a fence to flee the medium-security prison. Their freedom lasted less than 48 hours.

The former Annapolis resident, stood quietly during the brief hearing and declined to speak afterward.

The plea entered before Judge Clayton Greene Jr. cuts the maximum sentence Feil could receive at sentencing, set for March 15, from 12 years to five.

It also brought to an end to her hopes of earning state certification as a psychologist.

Feil's lawyer, Isaiah Dixon III, said he will ask Greene to grant her probation rather than impose a prison sentence. "I cannot imagine jail serving any useful purpose at this point," he told reporters. "She has been through a lot."

But Assistant State's Attorney William D. Roessler said Feil should be jailed for her breach of public trust and exposing the public to two violent felons.

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