Crime Watch

CRIME WATCH

May 17, 2007

Mistakenly released, suspect back in custody

A murder suspect who was mistakenly released from prison Tuesday was behind bars again last night arrested and charged with escape even though prison authorities acknowledge they had set him free.The escape charge was the only way tolegally return James C. Burton to custody because paperwork ordering his detention has disappeared or was never generated, said Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Division of Correction.

"This will afford us the opportunity to go ahead and try to find out what happened here," Doggett said last night of the "retake warrant" served to Burton after he surrendered to police.

Burton who had been denied bail since his arrest on a murder charge in March 2006 was released from the state prison system's Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore. His trial this month in the killing of Aaron Godbolt ended with a hung jury, and the case was scheduled for retrial Aug. 14.

After the 2006 arrest, Burton had been ordered to serve out a previously suspended sentence on a drug charge. Burton's inadvertent release apparently was a result of his having completed the drug sentence when he should have remained behind bars awaiting retrial.

Online Maryland court records show a judge's order on April 18, 2006, to hold Burton without bail in the murder case. But Doggett said last night that prison officials had no indication in their records that Burton was to be held.

"I went back and I checked in all of our systems," Doggett said. "There was no information on file that we had that would have prohibited this guy from being released. There were no warrants or detainers in our system."

Burton appears not to have taken much in the way of liberties with his mistaken release because prosecutors were informed of his unexpected freedom by his lawyer and he subsequently surrendered to city police, according to the Baltimore state's attorney's office.

Gadi Dechter

Man, 21, dies after being shot

A 21-year-old man shot yesterday evening as he walked along York Road in North Baltimore died a short time later at Sinai Hospital, becoming the city's 108th homicide victim this year, city police said.

Northern District officers responding to a report that a man had been shot in the 5100 block of York Road found the victim on the ground and bleeding from wounds to the upper body, said Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman,

Moses said the victim - whose name was not disclosed - had been approached about 7 p.m. by a man who shot him and fled on foot.

Metro Crime Stoppers at 410-276-8888 is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the killing.

Richard Irwin

2nd conviction in child's death

For the second time, a Baltimore man who was convicted of beating to death his girlfriend's child has been sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Erik Stoddard beat to death Calen Faith Dirubbo, 3, over several months, prosecutors said, and the girl died June 15, 2002.

Stoddard's original jury conviction and 60-year sentence were thrown out by an appeals court that determined that the victim's mother should not have testified about a statement made by her other child.

City prosecutors retried Stoddard in March without using that information, and again a jury convicted him of second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.

Yesterday, Circuit Judge Allen L. Schwait sentenced Stoddard to two consecutive terms of 30 years. Stoddard's attorney said he would appeal.

Julie Bykowicz

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