Threat against judge is alleged

Convict accused by jail minister

April 26, 2001|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

It was during Bible study in the Anne Arundel County jail that Hiram Sewell, serving 18 months for threatening a witness against him, supposedly made the nasty remark.

"From my hand to God, I will kill Bob Wilcox before my eyes close," he is alleged to have said, according to court documents.

Robert C. Wilcox is the District Court judge who put him in jail.

Sewell now faces a charge of threatening a public official and is scheduled for a jury trial in June.

A retired judge will preside and a public defender is being imported from out of town, and two local judges are being called as witnesses.

According to court documents, Patrick H. Mann, an Annapolis minister serving two years of home detention for sexually abusing a parishioner's daughter, was teaching Bible study Oct. 16 at the Ordnance Road jail in Glen Burnie.

He heard Sewell, 38, supposedly make the "verbal threat to kill Judge Robert Wilcox," charging documents say.

Mann gave the invocation at Wilcox's swearing-in ceremony, the program for the March 1997 investiture says.

Another judge, Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck, who sentenced the minister, is expected to be called as a defense witness in the trial, according to court documents. Manck, as administrative judge for the District Court, presided over the ceremony for Wilcox.

Sewell wanted a jury trial, so the misdemeanor case was moved out of District Court into Circuit Court.

Wilcox said he could not discuss the case.

Administrative Judge Clayton Greene Jr. said he asked that Raymond G. Thieme Jr. - a retired Court of Special Appeals judge, and formerly of the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court - hear the case because having a local judge on the bench preside might "look kind of funny."

"If a local judge is alleged to be a victim of it and another local judge hears the case, someone might feel that there is a friendly connection between the judges," Greene said.

District public defender Alan R. Friedman said he called for an assistant public defender from Howard County to take on Sewell's defense "out of an abundance of caution." He said he did not want to put one of his lawyers in the position of "questioning a local judge he appears before."

State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said he assigned two prosecutors to Sewell's case to let lower court prosecutors get experience by working on cases they start.

So far, Weathersbee said, he has seen no reason to bring in a special prosecutor, though he would not rule that out.

That could leave only the jurors as routine. A jury pool of 40 will be called.

For his trial, Sewell had listed other inmates who were at the Bible study as defense witnesses, including Kirk DeCosmo, convicted of accidentally killing two motorists 13 years apart in drug-related fatal crashes.

Also being called for the defense is Manck, who accepted Mann's guilty plea to child abuse a month before Mann reported the alleged threat. Manck had sentenced Mann to two years in jail to be served under house arrest and five years on probation.

Mann, 49, was accused of drugging a parishioner's two sons so they would sleep and molesting the parishioner's 15-year-old daughter.

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