Death row inmate implores governor to put him to death

Letter urges Ehrlich to `stop the stalling'

hearing set for tomorrow

February 10, 2005|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A death row inmate's plea to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to "stop the stalling" and put him to death has led a judge to schedule a court hearing days before his lawyers' latest attempt to spare his life was scheduled to begin.

Tomorrow's hearing is expected to address Lawrence Michael Borchardt Sr.'s request, in a letter to Ehrlich, to stop any efforts to save his life. In his letter, the former Rosedale resident challenges the governor to act and insists that he is "of a sound mind" and able to make the decision to die.

"No need to waste the State's money any longer and my request is FINAL and I have fired my lawyers for NOT doing their jobs," Borchardt, 53, wrote Dec. 5. Referring to a previous letter sent to the governor's office, he wrote, "I am only asking again that you do your job your swore to do and stop the stalling."

Baltimore County prosecutors said yesterday that they forwarded the letter to Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Pamela L. North after receiving a copy a few weeks ago. Borchardt's trial was moved to Anne Arundel after his lawyers requested a change in venue.

North's office scheduled the motions hearing for tomorrow, before Tuesday's scheduled start of lengthy hearings, said Baltimore County Deputy State's Attorney Stephen Bailey.

Borchardt has talked about ending his legal fight in the past and mentioned the idea during a hearing in September to challenge the effectiveness of his trial lawyers. That hearing was postponed to this month.

Brian Murphy, one of three attorneys representing Borchardt in the latest legal challenge, said yesterday that he did not want to comment on the letter.

"I think the judge wants to find out where we're headed," he said.

Borchardt, a former heroin addict, was sentenced to death in 2000 for the stabbing deaths of 81-year-old Joseph Ohler and his wife, Bernice, 82, in their Golden Ring Road home. The couple's bodies were found by a neighbor on Nov. 26, 1998.

The state's highest court affirmed the conviction and the death sentence in 2001, and the U.S. Supreme Court later declined to hear the case.

The latest legal challenge, in the form of a post-conviction hearing, is expected to address the efforts of his trial lawyers and whether his poor health - he has diabetes and brain damage - and history of child abuse should have led to a life sentence.

Borchardt is not the first death row inmate to ask authorities to speed up his death.

John Thanos, who killed three teenagers in 1990, was put to death by lethal injection in May 1994 after waiving his appeals.

Sun staff writer Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this article.

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