Annapolis man receives 10-year term for killing

Arundel judge imposes maximum penalty for manslaughter conviction

February 15, 2005|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

An Annapolis man was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday for fatally shooting a partygoer, after a judge said the defendant let previous efforts to help him slide by.

"There is a need to protect the public," Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Michael E. Loney said before sentencing Mario Jermaine Kaskins to a decade in prison, the maximum allowed for his manslaughter conviction.

Kaskins, 22, was convicted in December in the death of Damon Michael Rhodes on Aug. 10, 2002. The 32-year-old Baltimore man was attending a birthday party in an American Legion hall in Annapolis when he was shot in the neck.

Loney noted that Kaskins had been on probation as a juvenile and as an adult, and not entirely successfully. "He failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities available to him," Loney said.

Assistant State's Attorney Sandra Foy Howell sought the 10-year prison term. But Assistant Public Defender William M. Davis said that Kaskins was working toward a high school equivalency diploma, was instrumental in helping develop programs for a community group and was trying to change his life.

"For us, it will never be over," Dwight Banks, the victim's father, said after the hearing. "I still have no idea why our son is in King Memorial Park cemetery."

Anita Banks, the victim's mother, said she was gratified that Kaskins received the maximum sentence but said that "real justice would be for him to get what he did to my son."

The couple described Rhodes, a driver for a hauling company and father of three, as family-oriented and thoughtful of others, especially the elderly.

Rhodes did not know Kaskins, according to testimony at the trial. Admission to the private party at the Cook-Pinkney Post of the American Legion was by ticket. Kaskins was underage at the time and did not have a ticket, according to testimony. Some witnesses placed him inside the hall, where there was a scuffle. One witness said she saw Kaskins pull a gun from his waistband and heard it fire.

At his trial, Kaskins was found not guilty of first- and second-degree murder after the jury spent seven hours sorting through ambiguous and sometimes-contradictory evidence.

Davis, who had sought a shorter prison term, said he was disappointed with the sentence. He said no decision has been made whether to appeal the manslaughter conviction.

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