25-year term imposed in 2 armed robberies

Man had admitted crimes

judge notes long record

December 14, 2003|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A 24-year-old Columbia man with a long juvenile and criminal record and a history of cocaine abuse was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison for two armed robberies in Howard County - one at a Columbia restaurant, the other at a hotel off Route 100.

Nathan T. Hicks' record is filled with probationary terms, dropped cases and charges that were never prosecuted, but no "meaningful interventions," Howard Circuit Judge James B. Dudley said before imposing sentence.

"We have ... a perfectly dreadful person who's been in this system [multiple] times with zero results - a very sad commentary," said Dudley, who noted that Hicks had been placed on probation 11 times.

He ticked off a list of more than 30 charges filed against Hicks in juvenile and adult criminal court since 1994.

"I find that my options are very, very limited," Dudley said. He imposed a series of consecutive sentences for armed robbery and felony assault convictions and one concurrent five-year term without parole for a gun conviction.

Hicks, of the 5400 block of Eliots Oak Road, and Derris T. Moore, 22, of Elkridge each pleaded guilty to multiple charges this fall in the early-morning robbery of Copeland's restaurant March 1. Hicks also entered a guilty plea in an armed robbery Feb. 27 at the Ellicott City Hampton Inn.

Moore's sentencing, also in front of Dudley, is scheduled for Jan. 16.

During the Copeland's robbery, Hicks, a former employee of the restaurant, and Moore, of the 6500 block of Grainger Court, grabbed one employee by the neck and pointed a gun at her and other employees, prosecutors said. The two took money from the business and left.

The men were arrested after an officer who heard a police alert about the robbery saw them running on a lakefront bike path. Another officer arrested them at a footbridge. Police found more than $5,000 in Hicks' pockets and a loaded gun under the bridge, according to a statement of the case read into the court record.

Prosecutor Lynn Marshall said one of the victims was "extremely traumatized" by the crime and noted Hicks' long record. She asked Dudley to impose a sentence of 29 to 36 years. State sentencing guidelines recommend 24 to 40 years for such a conviction.

"The state has tried and tried and tried for years to rehabilitate this person," she said.

But defense attorney Jason A. Shapiro said his client has made strides since he was arrested and jailed for the Copeland's robbery. He is now "clinging to that hope" that he can get out of jail while he is still young, Shapiro said.

Hicks is "generally a decent, good, intelligent human being who, unfortunately, through drugs has lost his way," Shapiro said. He asked Dudley to sentence his client to 15 years.

Drugs "rob" people of their souls, Shapiro said, but since Hicks has been jailed, "I'm seeing his soul return."

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