A Riderwood-area man, consumed by what a judge called a "driving obsession" to re-establish a rail crossing at the Riderwood Post Office, was convicted yesterday in Essex District Court of harassing a neighbor.
Judge A. Gordon Boone Jr., ordered a pre-sentence investigation including a psychiatric report for Jay R. Angle, 62, a retired CSX employee. Judge Boone will sentence Mr. Angle after those reports are completed. Mr. Angle, who lives in the Village Green development, a half-mile from the former crossing point, could be jailed for 30 days and fined $500. Trespass charges against Mr. Angle were dismissed.
Jeffrey H. Gray, Mr. Angle's lawyer, said he expects to appeal the case to Circuit Court.
At the center of the dispute is a 15-foot-wide, 247-foot-long bit of earth known as Emily's Path. It extends from the 8000 block of Rider Ave. to what are now the light rail tracks behind the Riderwood Post Office. Mr. Angle said he is part of a corporation that owns half the right-of-way, while Frederick and Olivia Rasmussen own the other half. Mr. Rasmussen is an editorial assistant presently assigned to The Sun's Carroll County bureau.
Before convicting Mr. Angle, Judge Boone watched an hour-long summary of nearly 30 hours of videotape the defendant said he made between December 1991 and last April to chronicle changes on the path. After the viewing, the judge agreed that the tape and Mr. Angle's testimony show that Mr. Angle is blaming the Rasmussens for the Mass Transit Administration's decision -- which they and other neighbors supported -- to fence the tracks at the end of the path.
Neither Mr. Angle nor the Rasmussens would comment after yesterday's verdict.
The case began in April when the Rasmussens lodged harassment and trespass complaints against Mr. Angle. At the first hearing, July 22, the Rasmussens testified that Mr. Angle frequently appeared on the path beside their house and in the neighborhood, and videotaped them and their children, who laughed at him. There were several confrontations.
Before the July hearing, prosecutor Joseph R. Woolman III offered to put the case on the inactive docket, but Mr. Angle insisted on proceeding.
Mr. Angle has opened another legal front in his effort to reopen the path and re-establish the at-grade crossing over the light rail tracks, once used by the Northern Central Railway.
On Monday, his lawyer, Mr. Gray, filed suit in Baltimore County Circuit Court against Baltimore County, the MTA, the Rasmussens and another former Rider Avenue couple. The suit asks the court to declare illegal the county's decision to close Emily's Path and the MTA's decision to block the crossing. The suit also asks the court to order the MTA to build a pedestrian bridge or a tunnel crossing or to open the fence.