Guilty plea in high-speed chase

City man stole tractor-trailer and seriously injured state trooper

April 22, 2006|By JULIE SCHARPER | JULIE SCHARPER,SUN REPORTER

A Baltimore man pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing a tractor-trailer, leading 20 police cars on a high-speed chase and injuring a state trooper when he rammed into a police cruiser.

Cokie Joseph Gopshes, 34, could receive up to 25 years in prison and a $25,000 fine after being convicted of felony theft and first-degree assault. The charges stem from this incident and a second tractor-trailer theft in 2004.

On Aug. 5, 2004, officers in Anne Arundel County spotted Gopshes driving a stolen Freightliner near the Baltimore City line, according to court documents. They followed Gopshes and alerted Baltimore police.

After a Baltimore officer trying to stop Gopshes was forced to run out of the path of the speeding vehicle, the chase began.

A helicopter and police cruisers pursued Gopshes for 40 minutes through the city, into Baltimore County and onto the southbound Baltimore-Washington Parkway. As Gopshes led police back into Anne Arundel County, he sideswiped a BMW and another tractor-trailer before slamming into the cruiser driven by Cpl. Mark Bailey.

Bailey suffered injuries that forced him to end his career with the state police, Assistant State's Attorney Anastasia Prigge said.

Gopshes reached speeds of 75 mph to 80 mph before he careened onto an employees-only road leading to the National Security Agency, where federal agents prepared to shoot him, Prigge said. Gopshes stopped the tractor-trailer and struggled with the officers who arrested him, Prigge said.

Standing next to defense attorney David Harding, Gopshes told the court that he was taking the antipsychotic drug Thorazine, that he was under the care of a psychiatrist and that he had been hospitalized in a mental health facility at the age of 15.

Gopshes also pleaded guilty to the theft of another tractor-trailer that officers found in a church parking lot on Aquahart Road in Anne Arundel County on June 13, 2004.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck set sentencing for June 14.

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

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