Keith Boggs was trying to turn his life around.
The 46-year-old homeless man had plans to move to Florida, where his parents lived, in the summer of 2014. He also was on a methadone treatment program to combat a years-long heroin addiction.
But on the evening of May 20, 2014, Boggs was beaten at a homeless camp in Glen Burnie. He died from his injuries a short time later.
On Tuesday, the man charged with Boggs' death, Joseph Eugene Wright, 44, of Glen Burnie, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He'll be eligible for parole after he serves half of the sentence.
The plea agreement upset the half-dozen members of Boggs' family who attended the hearing at the Anne Arundel County Courthouse in Annapolis. They wanted Wright to get convicted of first-degree murder, they said, and never walk the streets again.
"I'm embarrassed for the court system that they would let a murderer get away with this," said Jeannette Tamburo, Boggs' mom. "My son doesn't get justice for what was done to him."
State's Attorney Wes Adams declined to comment on the case through a spokeswoman.
Boggs' wife, Dawn, told police she and her husband were at the homeless camp near the corner of Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard and Eighth Avenue the evening of May 20 when Wright approached them from behind.
Boggs told officers Wright struck her husband in the back of the head with a stick, estimated to be several inches in diameter, then continued to beat him before running off toward Eighth Avenue. She estimated her husband was struck about 20 times.
It is unclear what provoked the attack, though witnesses told police Wright had been upset over a breakup with his girlfriend and appeared to be under the influence.
After the incident, Boggs and his wife made their way to the back of the BP gas station nearby and sat on a curb. Boggs eventually lost consciousness and stopped breathing.
Police and paramedics arrived a short time later and Boggs was transported to Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie. His spleen had ruptured and he died at the hospital.
Wright, who had nearly a half dozen prior convictions for assault, was picked up later that night on an open warrant. He admitted to getting into a fight with Boggs, but didn't realize Boggs had died until he was informed by police.
Defense attorney Elizabeth Palan said the plea was "fair" because forensic evidence and eyewitness accounts didn't support Dawn Boggs' recollection of the events of that evening.
Keith Boggs didn't have a wound to the back of his head, Palan said, and witnesses said the men were yelling at each other before the fight. Witnesses also said Boggs had armed himself with a stick, too.
Dawn Boggs disputed the defense attorney's claims.
"I was right there," she said. "This man brutally murdered my husband. It's not manslaughter. It's murder."
Wright never intended to kill Boggs, Palan said, and intent is needed to convict on a murder charge.
"This is the epitome of a tragedy," Palan said.
When it came time for Wright to speak to the court, he turned and apologized to the Boggs family.
"I am truly sorry for what I did," he said, "and I hope the family forgives me one day."
A handful of family members called out that they would never forgive Wright. Many were in tears throughout the hearing.
Judge Paul G. Goetzke said he sympathized with Boggs' family, but the manslaughter charge only allowed him to give Wright a 10-year sentence – the maximum allowed under the law.
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"If I could give you more time in this case, I would certainly do it," Goetzke said to Wright, "because not only does this family, but every family in this county, need to be kept from the conduct you engaged in, this horrible murder, this horrible act, that led to the death of this young man."