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Md. man sentenced to 12 years in burglary case

May 10, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- A Sabillasville, Md., man who in January entered a plea in an armed break-in during which a shotgun was fired inside a Hancock home was sentenced Monday in Washington County Circuit Court to serve 12 years in prison.

Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. sentenced Russell Samuel Harris, 43, of 16701A Raven Rock Road, to 15 years in prison for a first-degree burglary conviction, but suspended three years of that sentence. Long gave Harris a 15-year suspended sentence for a first-degree assault conviction, according to court records.

Harris entered Alford pleas to the charges Jan. 20. Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to gain a conviction.

In exchange for his plea, other charges against Harris were dismissed, according to court records. Those charges were four counts of second-degree assault; three counts of theft of less than $100; two counts each of theft of less than $500, malicious destruction of property and first-degree assault; and one count each of third-degree burglary, fourth-degree burglary, theft of more than $500 and reckless endangerment.

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At 7:53 a.m. Sept. 20, 2009, Washington County sheriff's deputies went to 117 Washington St. in Hancock for a reported home invasion, according to the statement of probable cause.

Deputies learned that Harris had been invited to the house for a get-together on Saturday, Sept. 19, but he became belligerent and was asked to leave at about 2 a.m. Sunday, the statement said.

One of the people in the house, Roy Turner, was asleep on the living room couch when he was awakened by Harris, who was holding a shotgun to the side of Turner's face, the statement of probable cause said. Harris was accompanied by two other men whom Turner did not know, the statement said.

Turner ran upstairs and locked himself in a bathroom, according to the statement.

Melissa Householder, Jason Harding and Sarah Hart were asleep in an upstairs bedroom when Householder was awakened by yelling downstairs, the statement said. She ran across the hall to her 18-month-old daughter's room and saw Harris running up the stairs, according to the statement.

Harris went into the bedroom where Harding and Hart were asleep and pointed the shotgun at Harding, the statement said. Harris struck Harding with the stock of the gun and hit Hart with his fist, according to the statement.

Householder yelled, "Please don't hurt my baby," covered her face with her hands and heard a shot, the statement said.

Shotgun pellets struck a wall about 3 feet from Householder's head, according to the statement. The pellets struck the wall outside the bedroom where Householder's daughter was sleeping, the statement said.

Cell phones, digital cameras, a backpack and clothing were stolen during the incident, according to the statement.

Harris was taken into custody at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at Chocolate Park Tavern in Cascade, the statement said.

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