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Inmate's sentence reduced by 20 years in false imprisonment

May 25, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- A state prison inmate charged with holding a disciplinary hearing officer at knifepoint entered into a plea agreement Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court that reduced by 20 years the sentence he originally received during a 2005 jury trial.

Talbert Parran, 47, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment of a Division of Correction employee and was sentenced by Circuit Judge Daniel P. Dwyer to 10 years in prison, to be served consecutively with sentences he is serving.

Deputy District Public Defender Eric Reed told Dwyer that Parran is serving a 37-year sentence on armed robbery and weapons charges.

Parran was an inmate at Maryland Correctional Training Center on Oct. 19, 2004, when he was taken to Maryland Correctional Institute-Hagerstown to appeal an earlier disciplinary hearing, according to the statement of facts read in court by Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson. Parran pulled a homemade knife and held it to the throat of John Sandstrom, a disciplinary hearing officer, Wilson said.

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Parran demanded to speak with then-Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and other officials about his grievances, Wilson said. Parran eventually spoke with a deputy commissioner and surrendered after about 90 minutes, Wilson said.

Sandstrom sustained superficial injuries while being held, Wilson said.

Reed argued that the false imprisonment of a Division of Correction employee, the most serious charge, should be dismissed, but Dwyer denied the motion.

The judge asked Sandstrom if he feared for his safety during the event.

"Absolutely. The entire time," Sandstrom said. "It was a terrifying event."

Dwyer told Parran he would not consider a plea agreement without the consent of the victim.

"I think a 10-year sentence is appropriate," Sandstrom said when Dwyer asked him about the proposed sentence.

Tried by a jury in 2005, Parran was sentenced to 30 years for false imprisonment of a Division of Correction employee and lesser concurrent terms on charges of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, possession of a concealed deadly weapon and carrying a deadly weapon with intent to injure, according to court records.

In exchange for the plea agreement, the assault, endangerment and weapons charges will be dismissed, Wilson said.

The conviction was overturned in 2007 by an appellate court that ruled Parran, who was not represented by a lawyer during the 2005 trial, had not waived his right to an attorney.

Parran's second jury trial on the charges was scheduled for Tuesday. Jurors sat in another courtroom for about two hours as the plea agreement was being brokered.

"I'd like to apologize to Mr. Sandstrom ... I had no grievance with Mr. Sandstrom personally," Parran said during the hearing. "It was a poor judgment call ... I'm still paying for it," he said.

Parran was frustrated by a drug test that came up positive, Reed said. He wanted a second test taken to show the first was a false positive, but the original sample was destroyed, Reed said.

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