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Prison sentence struck down

July 07, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

A "career criminal" sentence of 25 years without parole imposed last fall on a Hagerstown man has been struck down by Maryland's Court of Special Appeals.

Norman Perry Herbert will be returned to Washington County Circuit Court for resentencing in a July 1996 armed robbery in a Dual Highway motel parking lot.

Unaffected by the appeals court's July 1 decision is a 20-year sentence Herbert is serving for use of a handgun in the commission of a felony, five years of which are to be served without parole.

Another five years was imposed concurrently for handgun possession.

On Sept. 29, Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell sentenced Herbert, calling him "a lifelong violent criminal."

Herbert, 30, was convicted in June 1997 on charges of armed robbery and the two handgun offenses.

McDowell said in September the state's three-time offender law required him to sentence Herbert to a minimum of 25 years in prison without parole. Herbert had two other robbery convictions in 1987.

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While the higher court didn't debate that fact, it said the two previous offenses had to be charged separately - one before the other.

Court records showed that the charging document in Herbert's first robbery case wasn't filed until Sept. 30, 1987, well beyond the commission of the second offense and therefore does not qualify, the higher court ruled.

The third robbery occurred July 12, 1996, at 12:01 a.m. when a robber approached a man who was unloading a van at Wellesley Inn on Dual Highway, court records said. The robber displayed a handgun and demanded the victim's wallet.

After the victim handed over $88, a credit card and an ATM card, the robber fled into the woods, reports said.

Police later found a bag of clothing, some shoes and a loaded .38-caliber handgun under a tree, police reports said. After the victim positively identified the clothing as that worn by the robber, police discovered two yellow Post-It notes in one of the pockets.

The notes contained phone numbers and some names. One of the numbers belonged to a Hagerstown resident who recalled writing the other numbers down for a man later identified as Herbert.

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