Man sought in child sex case twice convicted of felonies

Court records show he violated probation 3 times but was spared more jail time

May 13, 2010|By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun

A man Baltimore police want to question as part of an investigation into how an 18-month-old girl contracted gonorrhea has twice in the past three years been convicted of felonies, including manslaughter, and has violated his probation three times.

Yet court records show that each time he violated the terms of his release, judges declined to impose additional prison time.

The revelations have sparked outrage from city police, who, along with the governor's office, have pressed judges to send convicted felons back to prison when they renege on the rules governing their early release.

The 21-year-old being sought in the child abuse case could have been returned to prison for several years — equaling the time he had left on a suspended 10-year sentence for his 2007 manslaughter conviction — on any one of the three probation violations.

But two Circuit Court judges in 2007, 2008 and 2009 simply re-imposed and re-suspended the original sentence, in effect continuing the probation even after the man pleaded guilty to selling heroin on a city street in March 2009.

The Baltimore Police Department's chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, said the criminal justice system "missed the mark, as far as the people of Baltimore and of Maryland are concerned."

He called the man being sought "a poster child on how to skirt the system. The state's parole and probation office violated this guy three times and three times he's been given a slap on the wrist. It's frustrating for law enforcement to see things like this. People have to demand and expect more from the criminal justice system."

In the drug case, Judge Timothy J. Doory sentenced the man to five years in prison, starting the day he was arrested on Aug. 1, 2008. A law-enforcement source said he was paroled in March after having served 19 months in prison.

Inmates are eligible for parole after serving a quarter of their sentences, and the source said this man's case was routine and that he was released "within guidelines" for offenders held on nonviolent offenses. "The assessment was that there was not much risk he would re-offend," the source said.

Doory's law clerk said she would speak to the judge, but there was no comment from his office by late Thursday afternoon. Another judge who didn't impose prison time on two of the probation violations, John M. Glynn, is retired and could not be reached for comment.

One of the violations was for the drug conviction; sources said the other two were considered technical, dealing with missed drug treatment appointments

Authorities have not publicly identified the man in the sex case and have stopped short of naming him a suspect. Guglielmi said only that the man is being sought for questioning as a "person of interest" in the case.

Officials have issued another probation violation warrant to allow police to arrest him. The Baltimore Sun learned his identity from law enforcement sources but is not naming him because he has yet to be charged in this case.

Guglielmi said many questions remain as to how the toddler from South Baltimore's Cherry Hill neighborhood contracted the sexually transmitted disease. He said parents brought the girl to Harbor Hospital on Monday and told doctors they feared she had been sexually abused.

Tests by the Baltimore Child Abuse Center confirmed on Tuesday that the girl had gonorrhea and, based on statements from the parents, detectives focused on the man, who lives on the same block in the neighborhood.

The girl's mother has gone on television news to complain that police acted too slowly in arresting the man, but police said they are working carefully because they do not yet know precisely what happened or just how the girl became sick. The mother has said the man, an acquaintance, had been alone with the girl in their house over the weekend.

The man being sought was 17 years old when he and three other teenage friends were arrested in connection with setting a rowhouse on fire in Northwest Baltimore in December 2006. Said Sawab, 37, died of smoke inhalation and the medical examiner's office ruled the death a homicide.

Court records show the then-teen pleaded guilty to manslaughter Jan. 29, 2007, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The judge suspended all of the time, however, and placed him on five years of probation.

The man was back in court again — on Dec. 11, 2007, June 27, 2008, and March 16, 2009 — and each time he pleaded guilty to violating the terms of his probation from the manslaughter case. And each time a judge declined to send him back to prison.

On the March 16 date, the man also pleaded guilty to selling heroin the previous summer on Sidney Avenue in Northwest Baltimore. Three city police officers said in a report they saw him exchange money for drugs and then found 25 capsules of the drug stuffed in the right pocket of his jeans. Doory sentenced him to five years in prison.

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