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Man gets 36 years for stealing guns from police warehouse

Howard County Times,
BYLINE: Kellie Woodhouse,
Link to Article

Baltimore City, MD

Judge: 'You set in motion a chain reaction that worries me'

Howard County Circuit Court Judge Timothy J. McCrone on Thursday sentenced a Baltimore man to 36 years in prison for stealing two handguns from a state police warehouse in Jessup while he worked as a prison trustee in a pre-release work program.

In October 2009, a jury found Roderick Lenard Hayes, 40, guilty of theft and possession of a firearm. Hayes had finished serving a 17-year sentence for robbery and kidnapping the previous April.

The firearms were first noticed missing in December 2008. Hayes was tied to the crime after one, a .40-caliber handgun, was discovered during a Baltimore City arrest on May 6, 2009. During a police investigation, phone records revealed that Hayes had sold the stolen handgun, along with another, still unrecovered handgun.

At an April 8 sentencing hearing, Maryland State Prosecutor James Dietrich asked for a 36-year sentence, the maximum allowed for Hayes’ crimes.

“Mr. Hayes record suggests … his propensity for violence and certainly his propensity for crime,” Dietrich said. “Once [the guns] hit the street, we all know they'd be used for one reason and one reason only, and that's to shoot people.”

Noting the state police’s error in not keeping the weapons secure, Dietrich added:. “In no way do the lax policies of the Maryland State Police mitigate his culpability in this case.”

Public defender Jennifer DeBoissiere asked the court for the 5-year minimum sentence.

“I think it is really significant that these (guns) were made so readily available,” she said, “There's strong culpability on the police department’s part.”

After the guns were stolen, state trooper Gary Prochaska, a 39-year veteran, was forced to retire from the department, according to Wayne Kirwan, a spokesman for the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office. Another trooper is still under investigation, Kirwan said.

After the sentencing, McCrone chided Hayes.

“You set in motion a chain reaction that worries me,” he said, referring to the one gun that has yet to be recovered. McCrone said that Hayes “demonstrated propensity for committing a crime during any opportunity.”

Dietrich said afterward he was satisfied with Hayes’ sentence, saying that it “accurately reflects the risk he created and his criminal history.”

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