An Anne Arundel County judge on Tuesday sentenced a man to life without the possibility of parole for the 2006 murder of an off-duty federal police officer in Odenton.
Judge Paul F. Harris, Jr., also sentenced William Lloyd McDonald, 35, of Glen Burnie, to 45 years in prison on armed robbery and firearms offenses.
The sentence will run consecutively with a 70-year sentence McDonald already is serving on charges of armed robbery, theft and possession of a firearm. Harris said McDonald's criminal history factored into his sentencing.
"No one is safe as long as Mr. McDonald is free to prey upon innocent victims," Harris said.
McDonald didn't speak on his own behalf, but public defender Denis O'Connell said McDonald maintains his innocence.
"While I think Mr. McDonald is extremely sorry for the loss the Curtis family has (experienced), and realizes this is a tragedy, he can't express any personal remorse because he didn't do this," O'Connell said.
A jury in May convicted McDonald of first-degree murder for the shooting death of Benjamin Curtis, 47, behind My Place Bar and Lounge in Odenton. The jury also convicted McDonald of second-degree murder, two counts of armed robbery and firearms offenses.
"In my view, Mr. McDonald can deny his involvement all he wants, but the jury spoke loud and clear," Harris said.
It was after 2 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2006, when prosecutors said McDonald approached Curtis' sport utility vehicle behind the bar. Curtis was sitting in the vehicle with his friend, Rhonda Briscoe, after a night out on the town, prosecutors said.
Armed with a handgun, McDonald demanded Curtis and Briscoe turn over their money and cellphones, prosecutors said. He then climbed into the back seat of the vehicle and ordered Briscoe to take off her shirt, the woman testified.
"He wasn't satisfied to just rob his victims," Harris said.
Prosecutors said Curtis turned around in his seat and began to struggle with McDonald. Briscoe ran from the vehicle. As Briscoe ran, she testified she heard a gun shot.
Prosecutors said McDonald shot Curtis once in the head. The shot killed him.
McDonald's then-girlfriend, Kim Finch of Severn, testified that McDonald called her early that morning to pick him up from a wooded area near the bar.
When Finch arrived, she said McDonald climbed into the trunk of her car and told her to drive back to their Glen Burnie apartment. He directed her to take a route in the opposite direction of My Place and the gate to Fort George G. Meade, where Briscoe had fled, she said.
Once McDonald and Finch got home, he told her he thought he shot someone during a robbery attempt, she testified. Curtis' cellphone and pieces of Briscoe's cellphone were found near the apartment shared by McDonald and Finch, prosecutors said.
An acquaintance, Carlos Wells, told police he and a friend borrowed a gun from McDonald shortly after Curtis' death. The gun was found in Wells' car during a traffic stop weeks later. It was determined to be the same gun that shot Curtis, prosecutors said.
Police continued to investigate, but Briscoe wasn't able to pick McDonald out of a police lineup. The case eventually went cold.
Finch told police about McDonald's confession to the shooting in 2011. McDonald was indicted later that year.
McDonald went to trial in 2013, but the proceedings ended in a mistrial. During his second trial in May, the jury convicted him after 12 1/2 hours of deliberations.
Curtis was an officer with Federal Protective Services, a branch of Immigration and Customs Enforcement responsible for guarding federal buildings. His wife, Laurie Curtis, said Tuesday they had two children.
"Words can not express how devastating your decision to rob and kill my husband has been to my family," Laurie Curtis said. "Having to tell my son that his father has been killed and watching him fall to the floor in grief has been the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. That was a day that forever changed the dynamics of our family."
In a statement read by Assistant State's Attorney Jason Knight, Briscoe said Curtis had a smile that would "light up a whole room."
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"Ben was like a big brother to me and a guardian angel to many others," Briscoe said. "What the defendant did was he took a beautiful spirit away from me, his family and this earth. He didn't deserve to leave us this way."