A Baltimore electrician, father of five children and accused murderer of four people, drew a 40-year prison term in Baltimore County Circuit Court yesterday for kidnapping a couple from an Owings Mills parking lot last April and terrorizing them for 18 hours.
Ricardo Burks, 31, of the 400 block of South Augusta Avenue, pleaded guilty in September to multiple charges in the kidnapping. He still faces a trial in the city for the alleged murder of the husband of his wife's sister and three teen-agers in Irvington -- in an alleged dispute over the quality of some drugs -- just before he fled to Owings Mills.
Arriving at 7 a.m. on April 21 in the parking lot of the Sinai Fitness Center, he abducted employee Kimberly Goldscher, 22, of Northwest Baltimore, and Eric S. Cada, 24, of Columbia, who had driven her to work in his 1990 Jeep.
Mr. Burks threatened the couple with two handguns and robbed them of $12 in cash and $170 from a bank machine in Columbia, according to his guilty plea. He told them -- falsely -- that he had escaped from jail and shot a police officer, but didn't mention the killings in Irvington, according to the statement of facts in the case.
He took them on an 18-hour trip: to a motel near Kings Dominion in Virginia, where he called his wife and had them write letters to his family, then to the Terrace Motel in Howard County, where police tracking the missing couple and the stolen
Jeep burst in and arrested him early on April 22.
At his sentencing yesterday, Mr. Burks told Judge Christian M. Kahl, "The victims were truly victims. I am guilty, and I'm willing to accept whatever punishment you give me."
A big man with a high-pitched voice, he told the court he couldn't say everything he wanted to because of the pending murder charges, but made this explanation: "There was something that happened to me. . . . It was not something that I planned. It was spur-of-the-moment."
His wife Cynthia told the judge that her husband is a good provider and father to their five children, ages 2 months to 15 years, noting that his help enabled their 12-year-old to skip a grade in school.
Then her husband began using cocaine, she told the judge nervously. "But it was not like he was a violent person," she said.
Assistant State's Attorney S. Ann Brobst asked Judge Kahl for a 50-year sentence on the guilty pleas to kidnapping, robbery with a deadly weapon, and use of a handgun.
Acting Public Defender Amanda E. Bull asked for "closer to 30 years, with the possibility of probation," saying her client has never been been in prison before and shouldn't be warehoused.
The judge said, "Mr. Burks is an impressive defendant, of above-average intelligence. . . . He had a great deal of potential.
"But because of cocaine, primarily, he took that potential and trashed it. He terrorized two young people in a period of 18 hours. He changed their lives forever."