3 plead guilty in break-in


Two men and a woman pleaded guilty yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court to the break-in last March 18 in which the Painter's Mill Dinner Theatre, an Owings Mills landmark for three decades, was ruined by fire.

A fourth defendant, Bradley Spitler, 20, the alleged arsonist, will be tried in September, said prosecutor Mark Tilkin, who handled yesterday's cases.

Yesterday's defendants -- who pleaded guilty to breaking and entering -- were William Harlow, 21, who faces seven years in prison under a plea agreement with the state; Freddie Lee Ferguson, 28, of the 100 block of Wilgate Road in Owings Mills, and Debra Ann Mann, 23, of the 11000 block of Reisterstown Road.

Mr. Tilkin said the state has agreed to make no sentence recommendation on Mann and Ferguson when they are sentenced in October. They could get up to 10 years each.

According to the prosecutor's statement, Spitler and Harlow escaped from the minimum-security Sykesville prison laundry center March 17, met Mann and Ferguson, stole a truck and acetylene torches from a Hampstead construction site, and drove to Painter's Mill.

Spitler and Harlow burned through a dressing-room window grate and hauled the torches into the office. They believed the receipts of a major country music concert the night before were in the safe. Harlow went outside while Spitler tried unsuccessfully to cut into the safe. Spitler came outside but then returned to the building and set the fire, according to the prosecutor.

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