Man pleads guilty in Lansdowne burglary

He was shot as neighbor saw him fleeing house

October 20, 2004|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Joseph Grace's shoulders shook as he sobbed and described the fear he felt standing on his patio and seeing a burglar in his home. The stranger tore through the screen door between them and shoved Grace into a gas grill before taking off down the driveway.

"I thought he stabbed me, it hurt so bad. I couldn't lay in a bed for four nights," Grace, 74, told a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge yesterday, moments after a Baltimore man admitted burglarizing the Graces' Lansdowne home in July.

Vander Davis Jr., 36, who was shot while fleeing the house, pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and apologized in court to "the people I offended."

Baltimore County Circuit Judge John G. Turnbull II sentenced Davis to 10 years in prison, telling the defendant that "it takes a lot of nerve to wander into someone's house in broad daylight." He called Davis "a threat to society."

Given Davis' criminal record - which prosecutor Stephen Bailey told the judge included convictions for theft, drug possession, trespassing and indecent exposure - sentencing guidelines recommended a prison term between seven and 15 years.

The burglary occurred about 1:10 p.m. July 19 at the Graces' home in the 2200 block of Hammonds Ferry Road.

Joseph Grace was putting away tools in his garage when Kelly Jay Dungan, who owns a liquor store across the street, told him that a man had come up to the Graces' patio and disappeared, according to court documents.

As he headed toward the patio screen door, Joseph Grace saw the burglar holding his wife's purse, he said in court. Josephine Grace had encountered the man moments earlier, glimpsing him in a mirror when he was "cowering down on the floor with her purse on his arm," according to court documents.

"The face really scared me to death," Josephine Grace told the judge yesterday. "For three days, I didn't sleep a wink. I kept seeing his face."

According to court records, Jesse Dungan, the brother of the liquor store owner, told police that he saw his brother chasing the burglar and screaming for help, and thought the man might have seriously injured someone. Jesse Dungan told police he retrieved a 9-millimeter handgun from the store and fired one round, striking Davis in the buttocks, court records show.

Bailey, the Baltimore County deputy state's attorney, said prosecutors are reviewing the shooting to determine whether charges should be filed.

Contacted yesterday at Lansdowne Liquors, Jesse Dungan said he did not want to comment "until it's all over with."

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