Man bolts from Pa. courtroom after receiving prison sentence

March 07, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

A Hagerstown man fled a Franklin County, Pa., courtroom Wednesday after he was sentenced to serve at least five years for leading Pennsylvania police on a high-speed chase and almost hitting an officer.

Terry Wayne Anderson, of 137 Ray St., Hagerstown, waved to his sister and then ran from the courtroom Wednesday morning. Three Franklin County Sheriff's deputies caught up with Anderson in the hallway a few seconds later.

In January, a jury found Anderson, 43, guilty of two counts of aggravated assault, recklessly endangering and fleeing.

He had been free on $50,000 bail since the trial.

Anderson, who did not testify during his trial, said Wednesday at his sentencing that he was afraid for his life and that is why he would not pull over during a 50-mile chase across Franklin County that began at 2:15 a.m. March 24, 2000.

"I was trying to get away. I was wrong and I know that," Anderson said. "I was afraid they were going to beat me."


Judge John Walker told Anderson "you brought this on yourself ... The jury didn't believe what you are telling me today."

"Going the speeds you were, you could have wiped out a whole family. The fact no one was hurt was only the grace of God," Walker said.

Public Defender Robert Trambley asked Walker to consider a suspended sentence so Anderson could attend a Salvation Army substance abuse rehabilitation program.

"There is no question if you attempt to run down a trooper and hit a police cruiser you are going to state prison," Walker said, refusing the request.

Walker sentenced Anderson to serve 24 to 60 months in prison on each of two counts of aggravated assault, six to 24 months for recklessly endangering and six to 24 months for fleeing. He gave Anderson 19 days credit for time served and ordered that the sentences by served consecutively.

He also ordered him to pay $1,250 in fines and $524 in restitution to Pennsylvania State Police and $830 in restitution to the Borough of Chambersburg.

Walker said he would not run the sentences, which total five to 14 years, concurrently because of the seriousness of the crime and Anderson's prior criminal record.

Between 1976 and 1990, Anderson was charged with at least five crimes, including rape, forgery, battery, delivery of marijuana and aiding a fugitive, Walker said.

After being sentenced, Anderson asked how jail would rehabilitate his drug problem.

"Court is about punishment for what you do wrong," Walker said.

Anderson waited briefly in the courtroom as court officers completed his paperwork. Defendants sentenced to jail time usually are led from the courtroom by a deputy to a holding cell in the courthouse. But after his sister asked if she could say goodbye, Anderson turned, waved and took off through the front of the courtroom.

Anderson initially had entered into a plea agreement with the District Attorney's Office, but he asked to withdraw it in February 2001. He said then he was unhappy with the sentence recommendation and opted to go to trial.

During the trial, Pennsylvania State Police troopers testified they spotted a car's headlights at around 2:15 a.m. March 24, 2000, along the now-closed Tapeworm Road, an area youths often pulled into to drink.

When the troopers approached, Anderson started his car and drove back to U.S. 30 at a high rate of speed, which was the start of a nearly 50-mile chase at speeds above 100 miles per hour that lasted about 45 minutes, Trooper Alan Trees said at the trial.

During the chase, Anderson once struck a patrol car as he turned around in a dead end road in St. Thomas Township and then almost struck an officer on Pa. 75, according to police testimony.

With the aid of other officers from Pennsylvania State Police and Chambersburg Borough Police, Anderson eventually was stopped near where the chase started.

The jury found Anderson guilty of all charges against him except one count of aggravated assault.

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