Former detective guilty of trespassing

Ex-Howard officer seen looking into apartment window


September 18, 2001|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A former Howard County police detective accused of peeping into an Elkridge apartment window in January was convicted of trespassing yesterday.

Francis Mort, 33, a seven-year department veteran who resigned his post about two months ago, could face a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. His sentencing had not been scheduled by yesterday afternoon.

The former property crimes detective, who now works in the automobile auction business, was convicted after a morning hearing in Howard District Court in front of retired Washington County Judge Daniel W. Moylan, who was asked to preside in place of Howard's five District Court judges.

The case, prosecuted by Carroll County Assistant State's Attorney Kelley Galvin, featured about a dozen witnesses, including two Howard police sergeants who were called as character witnesses for Mort.

Mort was arrested Jan. 31, six days after a resident in an apartment complex on Orchard Club Court in Elkridge called police to report a prowler. Sheila Manning testified yesterday that she saw Mort peering into a neighbor's window about 3:30 a.m. Jan. 25.

Officers who answered the call saw Mort on the landing of 6345 Orchard Club Court, Cpl. Mark Shiplett testified.

Manning testified that she later identified Mort to the officers as the person she saw looking in the window.

Mort later told detectives that he had been talking with a woman about the respective deaths of both of their mothers earlier and hadn't gone home right away; he said he sat in his car and listened to his mother's favorite music for a while, according to testimony. As he was heading home, he said he noticed a car driving quickly out of his Ducketts Lane neighborhood and followed it, according to testimony.

He told detectives that he was at the apartment complex as part of that investigation but that he had not called in to dispatch to tell them what he was doing, according to testimony.

Galvin noted that Mort did not tell officers at the apartment complex that he was conducting an investigation and instead said he was visiting a friend there.

Mort's lawyer, Timothy McCrone, argued that his client wasn't peering into the apartment window - but couldn't have violated anyone's privacy in any case because the blinds were closed.

But the judge pointed out that one of the officers at the scene said there were gaps on the sides of the window, which looked in on a lighted bedroom where one of the residents was getting ready for work.

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