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Man gets 10 years in deputy-biting case

August 23, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Unable to balance his professed need for drug treatment against his lengthy criminal history, Donald Edward Rowe Jr. was sentenced Monday to serve 10 years in prison for the second-degree assault of Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Maeve Starliper - an assault that involved biting the deputy Feb. 1.

"You probably do have a drug problem, but Washington County is having a bigger problem with you," said Washington County Circuit Judge Kennedy Boone.

Starliper was bitten as she and other officers were trying to take Rowe into custody after she spotted him in downtown Hagerstown and knew he was wanted for failure to appear in court, Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Lisa Hardy said.

Starliper and Deputy Paul Boyer chased Rowe upstairs into an apartment building, assisted by Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class George Fockler.

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Finding Rowe hiding in a closet, the officers tried to take him into custody and he came out fighting, Hardy said.

When it was over, Fockler had injured his wrist and Boyer had hurt his elbow. A 10-year consecutive sentence was imposed but suspended for the attack on Fockler.

Rowe was subdued with the help of two more deputies and two blasts of pepper spray, Hardy said.

"I didn't mean to hurt anyone," Rowe said. "I was being hurt so I tried to resist."

Charged with six counts of second-degree assault, Rowe, now 33, entered Alford pleas to the two counts because he admitted he couldn't remember the events of that day. The other four counts were dropped.

An Alford plea is an acknowledgment that the prosecution has enough evidence for a conviction, but the defendant does not acknowledge guilt.

"I have been an addict for 20 years. ... I think heroin is the only drug I missed," Rowe said.

Beginning when he was a juvenile, Rowe's criminal history includes batteries, burglary, theft, writing bad checks and violating probation in Maryland, Florida and Pennsylvania.

He has 3 1/2 years on a parole retake now facing him because of Monday's convictions in a 1996 incident which also involved biting a police officer.

Rowe was sentenced in November 1996 to six years in prison for battery in an incident that involved wrestling with a police officer, biting him and attempting to get his gun.

In that incident, Hagerstown City Officer Shawn Schultz was alone on patrol when he confronted Rowe for driving on a revoked license, according to court records.

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