Escapee sentenced to 10 additional years

June 09, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A convicted murderer who will serve a total of 10 years for his January escape from prison and a theft he committed while on the loose apologized, in Spanish, Tuesday morning in Washington County Circuit Court.

"The truth is I beg your forgiveness," Kanderlario Garcia-Ramos said through an interpreter. "Just that I'm sorry, that's all," he said.

Garcia-Ramos, 24, whose name has also appeared in records as Kandelario Garcia-Ramos, pleaded guilty through his interpreter Tuesday to first-degree escape from Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown and felony theft for breaking into a home and taking jewelry, a camera and other items.

The judge sentenced Garcia-Ramos to eight years for the escape and to two years for the theft. Both sentences are to be served consecutively to the 40 years he is already serving for murder, Washington County Circuit Judge Daniel P. Dwyer ordered. Consecutive means that his sentences will be served one after the other.


Other charges, including those from two burglary cases that had been pending in Washington County District Court, were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

On Tuesday, Garcia-Ramos was escorted into the courtroom by four Maryland Division of Correction officers, who stationed themselves beside and behind him, and near the courtroom doors.

At one point during the initial plea hearing, Garcia-Ramos indicated he had not been read the charging documents and could not read them himself. The judge ordered a break in the proceedings while the interpreter and defense attorney went over the paperwork with the defendant.

Garcia-Ramos was at large for five days after he climbed a fence at the medium-security state prison south of Hagerstown on Jan. 17. He managed to climb two fences -- one 12 feet high, the other 18 feet high -- topped with razor wire, prison officials have said. He escaped from the prison between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m., as his unit was on its way to or from breakfast at the dining hall. It is believed the inmate laid a jacket over the fence to get over it, a prison spokesman has said.

A K-9 sergeant at the prison discovered a coat and bedsheet with blood on them hanging from an exterior fence post at about 8:45 a.m. Jan. 17, Assistant State's Attorney John Dunlap said Tuesday in court.

Another officer doing a count of the inmates discovered at about 9 a.m. that Garcia-Ramos was the missing prisoner, Dunlap said.

Homeowners returning Jan. 19 to their Mill Point Road home, about three miles from the prison, after a Florida vacation, discovered that someone had been in their home while they were gone.

Milk had been taken from the refrigerator and a bag of tangerines was also gone. Sharon Shank told The Herald-Mail in January that all of her jewelry was taken.

When Garcia-Ramos was captured, he had in his possession a Sony CyberShot camera with pictures of the Shank family, as well as pictures of himself, in its memory, police have said.

Sharon Shank and her husband, John, have lost their sense of security in their home, Dunlap said.

"There is no doubt he was a risk to the public, especially this county, for five days," he said.

Garcia-Ramos was caught when a clerk at Sheetz at U.S. 40 and Md. 66, east of Hagerstown, called 911 to report a man loitering in the store on Jan. 22. He led police on a chase for about a mile before being caught on a local prosecutor's farm.

The man police captured that day initially gave the name of Tony Perez, but fingerprints showed he was actually the escaped inmate.

He was serving a 40-year sentence for stabbing to death his former boss in Prince George's County, Md., in 2007.

Assistant Public Defender Jerome Joyce said he thought it was notable that Garcia-Ramos was found, after five days, only five miles from the prison, and that the escapee sought shelter in empty sheds and outbuildings.

Garcia-Ramos obviously had no plan, beyond getting over the prison walls, and committed no acts of violence while on the run, Joyce said.

Garcia-Ramos is now being held at North Branch Correctional Institution, a maximum-security facility near Cumberland, Md.

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