Man guilty in death of boy, 10

Ronald Lee Adams pleaded guilty to automobile manslaughter yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court, admitting that he struck and killed a 10-year-old boy as the child rode his bike on a neighbor's lawn.

Adams, 38, of the 18400 block of Gunpowder Road in Hampstead, faces up to 10 years in prison. Assistant State's Attorney John P. Cox said sentencing guidelines call for three months to four years.


Adams was convicted in 1979 in Pennsylvania for driving under the influence.

Judge Robert E. Cahill Sr. did not revoke Adams' $50,000 bail because Adams has custody of a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. Judge Cahill scheduled expedited sentencing for Nov. 10.


He also ordered Adams, an employee of Xerox Corp., not to drive as of today. Adams told the judge, "I drive [my kids] to day care and pick them up from day care," but otherwise he said little yesterday.

Mr. Cox told the judge that Benjamin Kenneth Merrell, his father and sister had been visiting neighbors May 21 and were almost at their home in the 15700 block of Hanover Pike (Route 30) near Arcadia when Adams' car came up onto the lawn.

Bradley Seamon Merrell, 30, saw the headlights coming, yelled to his son to watch out and grabbed his daughter. Benjamin and his bicycle flew past his father and sister, who were almost struck by Adams' Plymouth. Mr. Cox said Mr. Merrell was so close that he remembered the driver's eyes were open.

As Benjamin lay moaning in pain, the car continued north on Route 30, the prosecutor said. Adams drove home and went to sleep. A United Parcel Service truck driver who had seen the car veer across the center line gave police its tag number.

State troopers from the Westminster barracks and Baltimore County police officers went to Adams' home just after midnight, where they found the damaged car but could not rouse Adams. They obtained a key and arrested Adams, who at first refused to take a breath test.

About three hours later, he consented, and a .13 percent blood alcohol level was recorded, Mr. Cox said. The legal standard for intoxication is .10 percent.

Adams said he had been driving from Woodlawn for about three hours when the accident occurred and had had "a couple of beers."