Essex man, 21, gets life plus 15 years in murder

Victim was killed trying to flee robbers

January 10, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A 21-year-old Essex man was sentenced to life plus 15 years yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court for shooting to death a father of five last May as he tried to flee during a robbery.

Curtis Love, of the 1000 block of Bayner Road, was sentenced at a hearing in which Love's lack of emotion was evident and the victim's mother broke down and cried.

"I want you to know you have not only killed my son, you have hurt everyone I loved, everyone," Friedaricka Congdon told Love.

Police said Allen Sampson, 34, of Baltimore was in the 1600 block of Rickenbacker Road in the Villages of Tall Trees on May 31, when Love and an accomplice demanded his cash at gunpoint.

Robert J. Pittman, 18, of the 1600 block of Eastern Ave. in Baltimore grabbed Sampson, but he broke free and Love shot him as he ran, according to a statement of charges filed by police. He was pronounced dead an hour later at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Pittman, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, is tentatively scheduled to be tried as an adult on first-degree murder charges Feb. 28, said Assistant State's Attorney Rachel Cogen.

Love pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and a handgun charge before Judge John O. Hennegan on Oct. 27.

William Giuffre, Love's lawyer, said yesterday that his client had an IQ of about 70, read at a third-grade level and left a troubled home at 13. He said the shooting was Love's first adult criminal offense.

"He's not John Dillinger, he hasn't led a life of crime," Giuffre said. "With all his emotional and medical problems over the years, he's just coping."

Prosecutors asked Hennegan for a sentence of life without parole. They argued that Love failed to respond to treatment in the juvenile system and that he showed no remorse.

"It's not that the defendant hasn't shown any sign of remorse here today, it's that he hasn't shown any sign of anything," Cogen said.

Love waved at relatives in the courtroom, sipped water from a cup as he stood next to his lawyer and gave a thumb's-up sign as he was taken from the courtroom.

Hennegan agreed yesterday that Love appeared to lack remorse, but said that a sentence of life without parole wouldn't help Sampson.

"It appears [Love] is rather unaware of the damage he's caused. He doesn't seem to comprehend it," Hennegan said.

Congdon, in a voice that quivered with emotion, told Hennegan that her son, Sampson, was a hemophiliac who had struggled to support five children as a house painter and carpet installer.

"He was no angel, but he loved his family and he did everything he could to support them," she said.

Congdon said after the hearing that Love should have been sentenced to life without parole.

She said Hennegan's sentence means she will worry about the possibility of Love's release one day.

When Love becomes eligible for a parole hearing - which lawyers said could be in about 15 years - Congdon will have to argue that he remain behind bars, she said.

"The victim has to keep paying, and this is wrong when it's been documented that this defendant is a person who knows right from wrong," she said.

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