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Man gets five years for assault on woman

February 10, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

Harold Elmer Rice Jr. was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court for a 1998 road rage incident in which he dragged a woman out of her vehicle and beat her in front of witnesses on an Interstate 70 exit ramp.

"I've heard a lot about good intentions," said Judge Frederick Wright. "But the records show him to be aggressive ... dating back to 1987."

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Lisa Hardy told Wright that Rice has six convictions for assault including this latest case and a similar road rage incident in Frederick County on Dec. 3, 1998, for which he was sentenced to serve 18 months in jail last November.

"It sounds like he is two people ... a Jekyl and Hyde," said defense attorney John Salvatore. "I've found out he's normally a kind, caring, unselfish person."

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Salvatore said Rice is now on medication to "smooth out the rough edges."

Rice, 35, of 110 Manor Drive, Apt. 202, was charged in Washington County after the Oct. 11, 1998, incident involving a Hagerstown woman traveling from Frederick to Hagerstown with her 4-month-old son in the back seat.

In November, a jury heard testimony from Andrea Conny, who said Rice followed her, veered in front of her several times and once ran her vehicle into the median of I-70 between Frederick and Hagerstown.

The incident ended on the ramp to the Dual Highway east of Hagerstown where two witnesses testified they saw Rice beating Conny as she lay on the roadway near her vehicle.

"I asked him what his problem was," Conny told the jury last November, who said she pulled her car over that day.

She said she stayed in her car and lowered her window a few inches, but that Rice grabbed her hair, forcing her to open the door to get free.

It was then that two men from Virginia pulled off the same ramp and stopped to help Conny by yelling at Rice and calling Maryland State Police on a cellular phone.

Both of those men testified at the trial that Rice was clearly the aggressor.

"I'm very sorry for the many years I couldn't get a grip on things," Rice said Thursday. "I'd like to have a chance."

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