Man gets 10 years in fatal beating

March 20, 2010|By Andrea F. Siegel

A 25-year-old man accepted a 10-year-sentence Friday for what authorities said was the fatal beating of another man in a dispute over a makeshift bed in a homeless camp in Glen Burnie.

By entering an Alford plea in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, Allan Jake Clark acknowledged prosecutors had evidence to convict him of manslaughter in the April 2007 beating of Michael Walter Evans Sr. and accepted the maximum prison sentence.

Clark was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years for the killing, but the conviction and sentence were overturned on appeal last year because a juror had conducted forbidden research online. Clark opted to enter the Alford plea Friday instead of facing another jury trial.

"He is grateful that he got a second chance to decide what to do with the case," Assistant Public Defender Karl H. Gordon said.

Evans, 54, was related to the owners of the Graul's grocery stores. Both he and Clark were homeless. Another homeless man testified that Clark told him he beat up a man who he found in his makeshift bed at a former car dealership and stole cash from his wallet.

The Court of Special Appeals erased the verdict. It said a juror compromised the outcome by researching scientific terms on Wikipedia, where definitions detailed how the settling of blood after death can help determine the time and place of death - an issue at Clark's trial.

The plea was arranged in part because prosecutors anticipated they would have had difficulty locating witnesses for a trial, said Kristin Fleckenstein, spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office.

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