Welk given 18-year term

Columbia man pulled knife on his teen daughter

Previous offense noted

Ellicott City

March 01, 2001|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

Saying "enough is enough," a Howard County Circuit Court judge sentenced a 43-year-old Columbia man to 18 years in prison yesterday for terrorizing members of his family for the second time in less than a decade.

Judge James B. Dudley handed Kenneth Robert Welk Jr. three consecutive five-year prison terms for assault plus a three-year prison term for resisting arrest -- a sentence greater than recommended by state sentencing guidelines but less than the 30-plus years maximum allowed by law.

In imposing sentence, Dudley noted the first incident, in 1991, during which Welk held his ex-wife and her co-workers at an Ellicott City bank hostage at gunpoint. For that offense, Welk served 14 months in prison."... This ex-husband and father has imposed terror, horror and heartache upon his ex-wife and family," Dudley said.

Welk was convicted in January of assault, resisting arrest and reckless endangerment.

Welk pulled a hunting knife on his 15-year-old daughter June 29 after she confronted him in the kitchen of the Gwynn Park Drive house in Ellicott City that she shared with her mother, younger brother and grandmother, according to testimony during the trial.

The daughter called 911. Officers fired rubber bullets and bean bags to disable Welk so they could handcuff him, according to testimony.

The combination of the 1991 hostage-taking and the June incident warranted a prison term greater than the guidelines, which called for two to five years, Dudley said.

The judge said Welk showed no remorse for his crime and remained a "serious threat to repeat."

"It's rather miraculous that no one was seriously injured or killed in either incident," Assistant State's Attorney Brendan Clary said, arguing for a stiff sentence. "They are in a position of peril when he is free."

Welk's public defender, Louis P. Willemin, who argued for a shorter sentence, said that his client has a drinking problem and that "no one was hurt because Mr. Welk didn't intend to hurt anyone."

He needs mental health and alcohol abuse counseling, Willemin said.

Welk agreed and said he realizes he has been "a failure to my kids. I love my kids and I care about my ex-wife, and I understand completely I cannot be a part of that situation ever again."

But Dudley said it takes one drink to make Welk "a serious threat to the public."

"The citizens of Maryland and the members of the Welk family are entitled to whatever judicial insurance is available to insure that it will never happen again," he said.

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