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Court of appeals ruling reduces man's sentence

January 19, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruling has resulted in a 10-year reduction in the prison sentence of a Hagerstown man convicted last year of firing shots at a fleeing man and into a woman's kitchen.

A jury on Oct. 16 found Paul Edward Thomas guilty of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and carrying a handgun in connection with a February 1998 shooting.

Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell sentenced Thomas to the maximum 25 years. That part of the sentence was left untouched by the higher court's ruling.

But a five-year consecutive term for reckless endangerment was stricken because the higher court said that conviction should have merged with the assault, earning no additional time, court records said.

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On Thursday, McDowell reimposed a five-year sentence for the handgun conviction but ordered that it be served during the 25-year sentence, court records said.

Thomas, 27, had argued at his earlier sentencing that he fired the shots out of "love for my woman and her children" to protect them from the man who was the target of his gun that day.

But police reports indicated that the victim, Antonio Mooney, was running away when the shots were fired during the Feb. 25 incident shortly before noon in the 400 block of Park Place.

According to Washington County court documents, Mooney was chased by a group of men that day. As he fled between two houses, he was followed by a man who fired several shots, court records said.

Police later found three spent shell casings from a 9mm handgun in the rear yard of a home in the 400 block of Park Place, according to court records. Police also found a building in the 440 block of North Jonathan Street that had been struck by a stray bullet.

Thomas later was apprehended in Martinsburg, W.Va., on Hagerstown City Police warrants.

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