Howard judges reject plea for term reduction

Panel says Raras' sentence in murder-for-hire case was `appropriate'

March 13, 2002|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A panel of three Howard County Circuit Court judges has rejected a Baltimore County woman's request for a reduction in the life-without-parole sentence she received for her role in the 1998 death of her Elkridge daughter-in-law.

In a brief written opinion issued Monday, Judges Raymond J. Kane Jr., Diane O. Leasure and Lenore R. Gelfman said the arguments offered by Emilia D. Raras and her lawyers - that all levels of the judicial process involved in her case "got it wrong" - "are not within the scope of our review."

The Court of Special Appeals has rejected Raras' arguments that her statement to Howard County police should have been suppressed and that the trial judge, Dennis M. Sweeney, should have better explained the first-degree murder charge to the jury. The Court of Appeals has since declined to review the case.

Sweeney's sentence "was appropriate and should not be modified," the judges wrote in their one-page opinion. Raras' lawyers had asked the judges to suspend all but 10 years of her life sentence.

Raras was convicted of first-degree murder and solicitation to commit first-degree murder in February 2000 after a jury found that the now 66-year-old grandmother had hired a hit man, Ardale D. Tickles, 22, to kill Sara J. Williamson Raras in her Elkridge home. Emilia Raras maintained that she never intended for Tickles to kill her daughter-in-law - only throw stones at the house.

Sara Raras and Emilia Raras' son, Lorenzo, were involved in a contentious divorce and custody dispute at the time.

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