Teen gets life, no parole, in gang-related killing

February 15, 2003|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A teen-ager who dug the claw end of a hammer into the head of the dying man he helped to kill in a Glen Burnie gang struggle was sentenced to life in prison without parole yesterday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

"The word `depraved' doesn't begin to describe that act," Anne Arundel County Assistant State's Attorney M. Virginia Miles told Judge Robert H. Heller Jr., as she sought the maximum first-degree murder sentence for Sean Matthew Almond, 18.

Almond was one of five people prosecuted for involvement in the Aug. 7, 2001, slaying of Mark A. Miller, then 21, and the last to be sentenced. The prosecutor said Almond deserved the harshest sentence of the five because he planned Miller's killing and then, as the group left Miller to bleed to death in a baseball dugout, bashed in his head with a hammer.

In sentencing Almond, the judge criticized the defendant's mother, father and grandfather, referring to psychological reports describing a childhood of abuse, trauma, neglect, drug use and crime.

Almond's mother, who did not raise him but with whom he lived sporadically, left the courtroom after Heller berated her for her failures as a parent. He also criticized her for bringing her younger son, who appeared to be about 10 years old, to yesterday's murder sentencing.

"Why is that child in this courtroom? It seems neglectful, abusive, still to another generation," he said, adding, "It seems criminal" that the adults in Almond's life escaped punishment.

John Gunning, assistant public defender, asked for a sentence that would imprison his client for 60 years. An apologetic Almond asked for 50 or 55 years and said he wants treatment for a range of psychiatric problems.

"I'm just glad it's over," Ida A. Miller, the victim's mother, said as she wiped tears from her eyes after the sentencing.

Miller was a newcomer whose take-charge approach irritated Almond and James Thomas Blake, the leaders of the gang, and Andrew Grant Handschuh, another gang member. Miller was stabbed 28 times and his throat slit.

Last year, Blake was sentenced to 30 years, and Handschuh got a 45-year sentence.

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