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Man pleads guilty in escape case

May 27, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

Two days of freedom last October has cost a Baltimore man a year and a day more in prison for escape.

Joseph Larry Burr, 24, appeared in Washington County Circuit Court Tuesday and pleaded guilty to one count of escape, an offense that carries a possible 10-year sentence and must be served consecutively.

He is serving the sixth year of a 12-year prison sentence for armed robbery and auto theft.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Mark Wolfe said Maryland State Police were called to the county landfill on Kaetzel Road around noon on Oct. 3, 1997, to investigate an escape from a prison work detail.

Maryland Correctional Training Center officers supervising lunch for the prisoners on the detail discovered that Burr was missing, Wolfe said.

Two witnesses later told police they saw a car parked in a driveway near the landfill with a young girl at the wheel. They saw Burr running toward the car, which then took off, Wolfe said.

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Burr went home to Baltimore where he visited with family and went to the cemetery where his infant son was buried, according to his Baltimore attorney, Gordon Taybeck.

"It was wrong and it was planned but there was no violence or threats," Taybeck said. "He just got fed up with the system."

McDowell said there was no excuse for the escape, no matter how short or nonviolent.

In February, Washington County Circuit Judge Kennedy Boone delayed imposing a sentence on the woman who said she unwittingly helped Burr escape last October.

Teal Allegra Messersmith, 18, of 11318 Youngstoun Drive, Apt. 1503, entered an Alford plea to a charge of aiding/assisting an escape.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges the state has enough evidence to get a conviction, but does not admit guilt.

Her sentencing is scheduled for June 17.

Messersmith had developed a pen pal friendship with Burr while he was in prison. And there were phone calls, court records said.

In February, Messersmith said she was told that Burr was getting out of prison that day and she was to go to Kaetzel Road and pick him up, court records said.

When Messersmith found out Burr was an escapee, she called the police.

Just hours after Burr was recaptured in Baltimore two days later, Messersmith turned herself in to Maryland State Police, court records said.

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