State's attorney's office honors 4 for support of victims of crime

May 02, 2007|By Dan Lamothe | Dan Lamothe,Sun Reporter

Beth Ruland wanted to help after one of her favorite employees at Squisito's Italian Restaurant in Annapolis was robbed in 2005.

The man, an illegal immigrant from Ecuador, had not reported being accosted and stripped of his cash on a footbridge near Hilltop Lane. Too many Hispanics had been targeted in robberies in his neighborhood, Ruland said.

"He was so scared," she said. "I just said to him, `If someone actually stands up, this kind of stuff will stop.'"

Ruland, who guided her employee through the police and court processes, is one of four people who will be honored today by the state's attorney's office for their support of victims of crime.

Other honorees at the ceremony, held in conjunction with National Victims' Rights Week, include Tracy Williams, an Anne Arundel County police detective; Hilary Auth, the victim of a 2005 home invasion and burglary; and Carol Buttrum, a retired chemist who performed crime scene analysis for county police.

Meg Hayward, a victim witness specialist who worked with Ruland and the man, a married father of two, said Ruland's willingness to attend court hearings and help her employee write a victim impact statement played a key role in the conviction of an Annapolis man on robbery charges.

"She was the connection who really made it possible," Hayward said. "Without [the victim] following through, I don't know if we would have been successful."

Ruland and Hayward declined to identify the man, who had applied for but not received his green card. He has since been deported. He felt isolated in a foreign country, Ruland said, and needed help.

"I would hope that if I was in a foreign country, somebody would help me, too," said Ruland, a mother of four. "I've always felt for the underdog."

Auth and Williams will be recognized for their response to the home invasion and burglary Sept. 30, 2005, in Auth's former home on Bayard Road in Lothian.

Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Alexander said Auth was in her bathtub when a man and a woman broke in. Wearing only a towel, Auth came face-to-face with the intruders, Alexander said.

While the woman, Jasmine C. Joyner, 24, of Landover, fled her home, Dion Tucker, 25, of Deale ransacked it, taking cash, a diamond ring, hundreds of dollars in electronics and other items as Auth called police from another room, Alexander said.

One hour later, Anne Arundel County police learned someone had attempted to use a credit card stolen from Auth's home in Target stores in Forestville and Bowie, Alexander said.

Alexander credited the arrests to the work of Williams, who traced a Chevrolet Impala matching the description of a car used in the burglary to Tucker.

Police found an Impala in flames in southern Anne Arundel County three weeks after the robbery, and a day after Tucker reported his Impala stolen.

Tucker was convicted of first-degree burglary and theft, while charges against Joyner were dropped as part of a plea deal with an October 2005 fatal shooting in Washington. Tucker pleaded guilty to manslaughter, while Joyner pleaded guilty to second-degree murder while armed.

Williams said he is honored to receive the award but feels like he was just doing his job.

"This all really happened because [Auth] was in her home when it happened, and because she kept a level head," Williams said. "Even though she was petrified, she was able to call 911, give detailed descriptions of the intruders and identify them on the surveillance tape from Target."

Auth could not be reached for comment.

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