Macedo injured before hearing

Ballet teacher convicted of abusing student was to be sentenced

He was involved in a collision

Judge denied request for a new trial before the accident on I-95

Ellicott City

October 17, 2003|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

An Ellicott City ballet instructor convicted of sexually assaulting a young student was injured yesterday after his minivan collided with a box truck on Interstate 95 one hour before he was scheduled to appear for sentencing before a Howard County judge.

Jose Anibal Macedo, 42, was driving north on the highway just south of Interstate 895 about 12:30 p.m. when he apparently pulled briefly onto the shoulder, state police said. He moved back into traffic and was hit by a delivery truck that had been traveling behind him, state police said.

Macedo, of the 1100 block of Taylor Avenue in Halethorpe, was cited for making an unsafe lane change.

He and the other driver, whom state police did not identify last night, were taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Their injuries were not life-threatening, police said. Macedo was in serious condition last night.

Yesterday's accident was a bizarre coda to a case that has taken more than 10 months, two trials and two sets of lawyers to wend its way to a conclusion.

"It's a movie. It's a bad movie," said Michelle Beyerle, who teaches at Macedo's Advance Dance Academy on Baltimore National Pike and has frequently partnered with him in performances.

Macedo's attorney, Laurel A. Albin, spent three hours arguing that he should be granted a new trial because of a series of judicial decisions and juror actions that she said "prejudiced" his case.

By noon, Howard Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney had denied the appeal and recessed court for lunch. He ordered Macedo and attorneys for both sides to return to the Ellicott City courthouse at 1:30 p.m. for sentencing.

Supporters said Macedo, who has been on home detention, was heading to meet with a counselor to make sure his family would be taken care of if he were jailed immediately. State sentencing guidelines recommend jail time - as long as nine or 10 years for one conviction.

Once the motion for a new trial failed, Macedo wanted to find the counselor to help break the news of the day to his two young children, said Sharrye Schlerf, the pastor of Lighthouse Beacon Church in Simpsonville. Schlerf has been supporting Macedo's students, some of whom have attended their teacher's court hearings.

"He was following through with the contingency plan," Schlerf said.

News of the accident, which reached the courthouse within minutes, left two of his students, who attended the morning hearing, in tears. Dance parents and other supporters used their cellular phones to get more information on his condition.

Several said they maintain their belief that he is innocent.

"Eventually, this is going to come to an end, and the truth will come out," said Laurie Beyerle, Michelle Beyerle's mother.

Sweeney reset sentencing for 10 a.m. Monday.

"We'll sort of have to take it day by day, I guess," Sweeney said before recessing court.

Macedo was convicted in July of attempted rape, child abuse and related sexual offenses after his former student, now 15, testified that she suffered an escalating pattern of sexual abuse at his hands during private lessons over a two-year period ending in the summer of 2002 at his studio.

The first trial, in June, ended in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked on the charges. Albin repeatedly told Sweeney yesterday during morning arguments that the second trial was "a very, very close case."

Macedo has been barred from teaching minors while he awaits sentencing. He still faces accusations that he assaulted two other students during private lessons. Trials in those cases are scheduled for Nov. 3 and Dec. 8.

Sun staff writer Gus Sentementes contributed to this article.

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