Odenton man charged in death, 10 other counts from car chase

February 05, 2005|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

An Odenton man was indicted yesterday on charges that he caused the death of an elderly man when he crashed his truck into three cars while escaping house arrest.

An Anne Arundel County grand jury charged Michael T. Spears, 37, who has a lengthy criminal record, with manslaughter and 10 related counts stemming from the June 25 wreck near Crofton.

Burkman Gatton Sr., 92, of Crofton was paralyzed from the accident and died of resulting pneumonia in October, said State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee. He said James W. Nichols, 64, of Bowie was blinded in the crash; among the charges were two counts of leaving the scene of an accident in which someone was injured.

Spears was sentenced in October to 10 years in prison for the June escape. At the time, he had about 30 convictions dating to 1988, Weathersbee said.

If convicted of manslaughter, Spears could face the possibility of another 10-year sentence.

"He has no respect for authority," the prosecutor said. He noted that Spears had an alcohol problem and a record that ranges from minor crimes to burglary and includes at least 11 violations of probation.

"He was given far too many chances," Weathersbee said.

In June, Spears was serving 18 months on house arrest for burglary, court records show.

Responding to a house arrest monitor's report that Spears was not at home, police spotted him driving on Route 3 near Crofton, Weathersbee said. When they tried to pull him over, he sped through a red light and crashed into three vehicles, including one carrying Gatton, Weathersbee said. Spears ran, but police captured him.

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