Carjacker to serve 10 years in prison

20-year-old man held young girl at knifepoint

victims leapt from vehicle


October 15, 2003|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A 20-year-old Columbia man who carjacked a woman and her daughter at knifepoint on a Columbia parking lot in January was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison.

Walter A. Torres held a knife to the throat of the pre-teen daughter, Terrika Martin, and, with another man, pushed the girl and her mother, Evita Latouche, into their Mercedes on the Safeway lot in Harper's Choice Village Center on Jan. 20, prosecutors said. As the men prepared to drive off, the mother noticed that the back doors were unlocked, and she and her daughter jumped from the car.

"This is certainly a case where it's quite fortunate no one was injured," Howard Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure said before imposing a 15-year sentence with all but 10 years suspended and five years' probation. "It's hard to imagine the sheer terror the victims must have felt."

Latouche and her daughter did not attend yesterday's sentencing, but the prison term, which was negotiated through a plea agreement in the spring, "was substantial to them," prosecutor David Lank said later.

State sentencing guidelines recommended a term of five to 10 years.

They preferred the plea "rather than reliving it all with a trial," Lank said.

The second man convicted in the carjacking, Henry A. Maroquin, 20, of the 900 block of Park Ave. in Laurel, accepted the same plea agreement in May and is scheduled for sentencing Friday.

Prosecutors also agreed to limit their request for prison time to 10 years in Maroquin's case.

Chase ensues

After Latouche and Terrika jumped from the car and screamed, Maroquin and Torres drove away from the village center, prosecutors said.

A police officer spotted the maroon car, which had been reported stolen, at Route 32 and Shaker Drive. The officers began following it, sparking a chase that reached 110 mph, prosecutors said.

The men were arrested at gunpoint after they abruptly stopped the car on the shoulder of Interstate 95 near Interstate 895, authorities said.

Michael Kaplan, Torres' attorney, asked Leasure to impose a more lenient sentence.

"The unfortunate thing that happened in this case is he got involved with another young man who influenced him," Kaplan told Leasure before sentencing.

Torres' mother hugged him tightly, holding his head to hers and rubbing his back as she pleaded for "the best for my son."

"My son has always been a good son for me," Maria Torres said through an interpreter. "He has always been honest."

Deportation expected

Kaplan said he expects his client, a Salvadoran immigrant who was living in the 5200 block of Brook Way at the time of his arrest, will be deported once he serves his term.

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