Acted in self-defense against officer, inmate says Inmate charged with attempted murder, assault.


A former Maryland Penitentiary inmate has testified that he stabbed a correctional officer in self-defense after the guard entered his cell and threatened him with a knife.

"When I saw him pulling the knife out of his vest, my first thought was this man's getting ready to do something crazy to me. I got paranoid. I got scared." Larry H. Thomas told a Baltimore Circuit Court jury yesterday.

Thomas is charged with attempted murder, assault and two weapons counts in connection with a Dec. 4, 1990, incident at the penitentiary during which Correctional Officer Wendell A. Winchester was stabbed 11 times.

Officer Winchester suffered stab wounds to his lungs, pancreas and heart, and has been unable to work, said a prosecutor.

Thomas contends that he grabbed the guard's knife and stabbed him with it. The prosecution contends that Thomas stabbed the guard with a homemade knife that was hidden in the cell.

After the incident, Thomas was transferred to the Maryland Adjustment and Correctional Center, a super maximum-security prison.

During cross-examination, Thomas' reponses were heated and confrontational.

Assistant State's Attorney Gary D. Schenker described as a "fairy tale" Thomas' assertion that he acted in self-defense.

"You can't believe this fairy tale. No reasonable person would. It's an insult," Mr. Schenker told the jury.

He said Officer Winchester entered the cell for a "floor-tapping," a procedure to detect tunnels, and was attacked from behind and stabbed repeatedly with a 7-inch homemade knife.

Thomas is serving a sentence of life plus 10 years for a 1976 conviction for rape, battery and larceny. If he is convicted of stabbing the officer, he could receive two additional life sentences.

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