Guard pleads guilty to murder

Rosedale man gets 50-year sentence in 2000 decapitation killing

March 12, 2002|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A 46-year-old security guard was sentenced to 50 years in prison yesterday after he pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court to decapitating an Essex woman a few hours after they met in a shopping center.

Richard Lee Donnelly of the 6600 block of Golden Ring Road in Rosedale entered an Alford plea to a charge of first-degree murder in the death Aug. 27, 2000 of 38-year-old Rosemarie Shew. The plea means Donnelly does not admit guilt but acknowledges that the state has sufficient evidence to convict him.

Assistant State's Attorney Steve Kroll told Judge John Grason Turnbull II that Donnelly admitted to the killing when he was arrested Sept. 8, 2000.

Shew's body was found at a construction site on Franklin Boulevard in Reisterstown on Aug. 28. Her head was found Sept. 11, 2000, in a ravine off Interstate 795 about a half-mile north of McDonogh Road.

Police focused on Donnelly after they received an anonymous tip from a person who saw him talking with Shew at an Essex-area Metro Food Market on Eastern Avenue the night she disappeared, according to a statement of charges filed by police.

Donnelly acknowledged that he struck up a conversation with Shew, who lived in the first block of Avenal Road, about 9:30 on the night of Aug. 27, and arranged to meet her for coffee at a nearby convenience store, the statement says.

He told police that they later drove to the Loch Raven Apartments in the 1700 block of Waverly Way, where he tried to have sex with her in the back of her Nissan pickup truck.

Donnelly said he had been drinking heavily that night and began to beat Shew when she "became abusive" and threatened to tell his wife about the incident, according to the statement of charges.

According to an autopsy report, Shew was knocked unconscious. In his statement, Donnelly acknowledged handcuffing Shew, driving her to the construction site and decapitating her with a shovel.

"I felt panicked because I did not mean to hurt or harm her in any way but felt compelled to hide her head in a box," he told police in the statement.

As part of a binding plea agreement, Donnelly withdrew his insanity plea yesterday and was sentenced to a life term with all but 50 years suspended. Under terms of the sentence, Donnelly will remain under the court's jurisdiction and could be sent back to prison if he breaks the law after he is released.

Donnelly apologized to Shew's relatives in court yesterday and asked for forgiveness.

"If you can't forgive, the Lord cannot forgive you," Donnelly said.

Shew's relatives declined to comment after the hearing but told Turnbull that the killing shattered their family.

"Rosemarie was the rock of the family," said Delores Pierorazio, a sister-in-law.

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