Pair pleads guilty to 'gay bashing'

August 24, 1997


Staff Writer

Pleading guilty to armed robbery, two Hagerstown men were sentenced Thursday to prison for an attack the victim says was "gay bashing.''

Michael Lynn Cordell, 30, was sentenced to six years and Terry Lee Peterson, 39, got 10 years in prison. Both sentences were levied by Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell.

"This was a very serious case,'' McDowell said, believing the attack will affect the victim "the rest of his life.''

Deputy State's Attorney Charles Strong said the April 6 incident occurred at 5 Winter St., where the victim, Edward Holtsclaw, heard a noise around 10:30 p.m. while he was watching television.


When Holtsclaw went to the back door, he saw Peterson and Cordell, who came in, sat down and began drinking beer, Strong said.

"Peterson was calling him names about his sexual orientation,'' Strong said.

Peterson then walked behind Holtsclaw and hit him several times.

An air gun was displayed and the two men asked Holtsclaw for money, Strong said. They took money from Holtsclaw's wallet and fled.

"It's Holtsclaw's belief he was chosen for the crime because he is gay,'' Strong said.

Holtsclaw, who was bleeding from the ear, called Hagerstown City Police who began looking for the pair, Strong said.

Peterson and Cordell were apprehended on Church Street. The money taken from Holtsclaw was found on Peterson, Strong said.

They were both drunk and told police they ran out of money and "knew where to get some,'' Strong said.

Both men have been at the Washington County Detention Center since April 6 awaiting trial. Charges of second-degree assault were dropped Thursday in exchange for the pleas to armed robbery.

Peterson is on parole for a 1989 assault for which he received a 10-year sentence.

Cordell's past record included a theft and a failure to appear, court records said.

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