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Pa. man gets 25 years in armed carjacking

March 25, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Matthew Ross Himelright was sentenced Tuesday morning to serve 25 years in prison for an armed carjacking last spring that began in Hagerstown and ended in the mountains of North Carolina.

"This could have been a murder," said Washington County Circuit Judge Kennedy Boone, who heard from the victim, Philip James Bean, and Bean's mother.

Himelright's Feb. 25 trial was halted when he entered an Alford plea to armed carjacking, a crime that carries a maximum 30-year sentence.

In an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges the prosecution has enough evidence to gain a conviction, but does not admit guilt.

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Himelright, 21, of Stroudsburg, Pa., also had been charged with attempted first-and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, felony theft, kidnapping and reckless endangerment.

Those charges were dropped in exchange for the plea, according to Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Mark Wolfe who handled the prosecution.

"He had no respect for life ... it was a cold, callous act," Wolfe said.

Police in Washington County began working with authorities in North Carolina last June 2, trying to learn more about Bean's claim that he was abducted from Hagerstown on May 31 and left for dead nearly 450 miles away.

Bean, 23, was treated for injuries in Asheville, N.C., and released the next day, Buncombe County sheriff's deputies said.

Bean was found near the town of Arden, N.C., bound with an elastic cord, a shirt over his head and bleeding from his neck, court records said.

Bean told deputies in North Carolina and police in Washington County that he gave a ride to two women in Hagerstown on May 31, knowing only that one of them was named Michelle or Zoe.

As Bean and the two women drove around Hagerstown, they picked up two men and the five rode around in Bean's red Camaro drinking beer until the passengers asked him to drive them to Florida.

When Bean refused, Himelright jumped him in the Smithsburg area and slit his throat, using Bean's own knife, court records said.

Bean testified in February he was put into the back of his car and driven for several hours into the mountains of North Carolina near the French Broad River.

Bean said he was beaten and left on the ground.

"I suffered a lot," Bean said Tuesday morning.

Before the plea was entered in February, testimony was heard from Himelright's co-defendant, a Hagerstown teenager who pleaded guilty Dec. 16, 1998, to conspiracy to commit first-degree assault.

Her sentencing was delayed so Zoe Elizabeth Currin, of 12022 Heather Drive, could testify.

In exchange for her cooperation, charges of attempted first- and second-degree murder, armed carjacking, kidnapping, theft and conspiracy to commit kidnapping were dropped, court records showed.

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