Howard County police said these marijuana plants were seized… (Photo courtesy of Howard…)
While looking for signs of structural damage after a car crashed into an Ellicott City home and set it ablaze earlier this month, fire officials found something else: a basement marijuana farm, complete with a hydroponic system, lighting and 19 large pot plants, according to Howard County police.
On Wednesday morning, police arrested the owner of the home, Richard Kyle Marriott, 44, who faces drug possession and distribution charges.
Leonard H. Shapiro, Marriott's lawyer, said his client turned himself in and "has been cooperative. I think the evidence is going to show he's not distributing. It was for personal use," Shapiro said. Marriott runs a snowball stand during warm weather and works as a caterer, according to Shapiro.
The investigation started on the evening of Dec. 10, after a 20-year-old Elkridge man, Bryan Thomas Bolster, crashed his BMW into Marriott's house on the 5100 block of Montgomery Road, partially setting it on fire. Bolster died in the accident, and witnesses told police that the car was being driven at a high rate of speed.
Marriott was inside with another person, and both ran out of the house uninjured.
Mary Marriott, who lives on the same block as her son, said the car that hit the home destroyed her son's vehicle parked out front before clearing a 4-foot-high wall and crashing into the residence.
"When they built that development and widened the turn lane, it's like a straight beeline to his door," she said. "He can't live in it right now," adding that her son is searching for a place to stay. "It's Christmastime, and he doesn't have a car."
While searching the home, fire investigators found the plants and equipment inside. Police said they seized the drugs and paraphernalia and launched an investigation, which culminated in Marriott's arrest Wednesday.
Court records indicate Marriott posted a $15,000 bond and was released Wednesday.
According to police, the basement of Marriott's home was divided into four sections, each devoted to a different stage of growing marijuana plants. In Marriott's bedroom, police said, they found a five-gallon bucket filled with marijuana buds and seeds, as well as a digital scale.
Marriott has had several traffic citations and is facing an $8,000 civil judgment awarded to Kelsey's Restaurant on U.S. 40 in Ellicott City, according to court records. Mark J. Muffoletto, the restaurant's attorney, said Marriott had a catering partnership with the restaurant but defaulted on his end of the bargain.
In the latest incident involving Marriott, he was charged with speeding, driving under the influence and driving while impaired by drugs and alcohol on Montgomery Road at Red Hill Way after being stopped at 2:41 a.m. July 11. He is due for a District Court trial Jan. 19.