`Deceased' defendant arrested

Man wasn't dead, prosecutor discovered, only difficult to find

January 26, 2002|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

In June 2000, Carroll County Senior State's Attorney David P. Daggett received a death certificate bearing the name of a defendant who had two criminal cases pending in District Court.

An unsigned letter reported, "My son has recently deceased," he said.

Defendants occasionally die before trial, Daggett said, but he noticed that this certificate had been crudely altered: He could feel the dried correction fluid on it, and the name and birth date had been typed over.

"I just looked at it and it just looked shady. It looked altered," Daggett said. "I could see White-out on it. You could see parts were erased and typed over."

"Every time we receive a notification in the mail of a death certificate or a letter saying `so-and-so is dead,' we look into it," he said. A call to the funeral home revealed that it was the defendant's father who had recently died.

Charges of obstructing justice and altering a public document, in this case to avoid trial, were added to two misdemeanor cases against James C. Temple, 52, of the 4100 block Wards Chapel Road in Baltimore County.

Temple was at the Carroll County Detention Center yesterday, apprehended on a warrant issued in 2000 for his arrest after he failed to appear in court on the two original cases. Bail was set at $10,000 in the two cases by a court commissioner Thursday evening.

State troopers were serving a warrant in the area when they spotted the suspect at an address they had checked before, according to the police and prosecutor.

In July 2000, Daggett filed the additional charges against Temple of making a false entry on a public document and of obstructing justice.

These are in addition to misdemeanor charges pending from the 1993 and 2000 cases against him, including theft, possession of stolen property, driving on a suspended license and making false statements to the police.

"I know they've been looking for him," Daggett said of the police. "They just couldn't find him. It took a year and a half to find him."

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