Killer seeks reduction in life sentences

Mastermind in deaths of Pasadena couple says he's reformed

Prosecutors dispute claim

Bratt has been jailed since 1983

plea to trim term failed in October

February 03, 2000|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

For the second time in four months, convicted killer Larry Michael Bratt asked an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court yesterday to substantially trim his two consecutive life sentences, saying he is a changed man -- a statement disputed by prosecutors.

"The answer actually lies in the fact that the system actually worked for me," Bratt, a few weeks shy of his 48th birthday, told a panel of judges.

"I've discovered, I can't say for everyone, but for me, my ego was my worst enemy. I would delude myself at times. I would not admit what I did was wrong," Bratt said.

Bratt was convicted of masterminding the killings of John and Donna Carback on Dec. 19, 1981, in their Pasadena home and was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

While Bratt admitted for the purpose of the hearing that he masterminded the crime -- his request for a new trial is pending in the Court of Special Appeals -- he made no blanket admission.

Under Gov. Parris N. Glendening's policy of no parole for lifers, Bratt has no chance at freedom, said Fred Warren Bennett, his lawyer. Bratt is a model prisoner, teaching prisoners how to tutor illiterate inmates, writing about prison life for assorted publications and completing every prison program available to him, Bennett said.

"We urge the court to give the defendant a chance, a chance for the future based on his good deeds in the institution," Bennett said.

Richard Carback of Pasadena, the victim's brother, watched the hearing silently.

"If Mr. Bratt has been rehabilitated where he is doing so much helping in the prison system, let's leave him there to do more good. Let's not let him out and take a chance. Donna and John had no second chance," he said afterward.

Bratt's pitch was similar to one he made in October to Judge Clayton Greene Jr. for shortening his sentence. Greene rejected his bid in December.

This time, Bratt asked a panel of three judges. Bennett suggested time served plus five years' probation, or limiting incarceration for each life term to 15 years to win Bratt mandatory parole in about six or seven years.

Questioned by the judges, Deputy State's Attorney Gerald K. Anders said the sentence Bratt got in 1983 was fair and that the judges' role yesterday was to look at the crime and 1983 trial, not Bratt's current circumstances.

Bratt's failed sentence modification last fall centered on his current circumstances, Anders said.

Bratt's lawyer acknowledged that if the judges look only at the convictions and do not review what Bratt has done over 17 years in prison, "he loses entirely."

Anders depicted Bratt as a manipulative, Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde figure and said that he did not believe Bratt has been rehabilitated.

Rehabilitation is something to be decided by a parole board or a judge modifying the sentence, Anders said, and while Bratt hasn't come before a parole board, he lost his bid for a sentence modification. "To get into Mr. Bratt's mind and determine when he is telling the truth and when he isn't could be very dangerous," Anders said, noting that Bratt is a trained killer and the slayings involved large-scale drug dealing.

Prosecutors believed Bratt had the Carbacks killed in connection with another reported slaying of a Florida man whose body was never found.

"You have a person who truly enjoys killing," Anders said.

Pub Date: 2/03/00

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