Brian Arthur Tate's carefully planned murder of a rival suitor was so brutal and left such deep emotional scars that granting him a release date from prison would irreparably damage the victim's family, a Circuit Court judge was told yesterday.
Tate appeared before Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. at a hearing yesterday to ask for a release date. He was sentenced to life in prison Jan. 18 for the 1992 murder of Jerry Lee Haines.
Tate, 18, of Cape St. Claire, has been admitted to Patuxent Institution and a specific release date would help in his therapy there, a defense psychologist told Judge Thieme.
But the prosecutor in the case said at the 30-minute hearing that given the brutality of the murder Tate committed, he doesn't deserve special consideration.
"This young man before the prime of his life was brutally butchered on a public street," said Eugene M. Whissel II, assistant state's attorney. "You cannot put a specific number to what a human life is worth. That's why we have a life sentence and that's why it was the appropriate sentence in this case."
His comments came after the victim's mother, Jacquelyn Haines, came before Judge Thieme to read a statement objecting to a release date, but stopped as she began to read because she was trembling so visibly.
"I can't believe they're able to put victim's families through this," Mrs. Haines later said. "I'm going to be at every court hearing, every parole hearing, everything."
About 20 of the victim's friends and family members attended the hearing.
Judge Thieme declined to decide the issue yesterday, saying he would have to consider the evidence, which included two dozen letters written by friends and family members on both sides. "This case is too serious to shoot from the hip from the bench this afternoon," he said.
Mr. Haines, 19, was found stabbed 24 times and beaten Feb. 24, 1992, outside his home in Cape St. Claire.
Tate, a former Broadneck High School quarterback, was jealous of Mr. Haines because the victim had been seeing his former girlfriend, according to police. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in November.
George Lantzas, one of Tate's two attorneys, said yesterday that his client works as a volunteer teacher's aide at the Patuxent Institute, has earned his general equivalency diploma there and is due to give the equivalent of the class valedictory address at graduation ceremonies this weekend.
Mr. Lantzas pointed out that Tate was 16 at the time of the murder. He said that by setting a release date, the judge would not likely affect the amount of time Tate actually serves. That will be determined by the state parole board, he said.
A life sentence means a defendant is first eligible for a parole hearing after about 15 years. Mr. Lantzas said Tate is likely to serve 20 to 30 years before he is seriously considered for parole.
But he wants to establish a release date to prevent the possibility of Tate spending the rest of his natural life behind bars, so that "10 years from now, "this young man [won't be] being warehoused and forgotten."
Dr. Eric English, a psychologist treating Tate, testified that his client needs a release date as a goal to work toward. "It's much easier to put your energy on something that's focused," he said.
But Mr. Whissel said that a release date would serve no purpose and that the judge's original life sentence was the right decision.
"It was too much to ask for nine months ago, and it certainly is too much to ask for now," he said.