An Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge yesterday denied a request by convicted killer Brian Arthur Tate to set a release date on his life prison term, a decision that relieved and gratified the victim's family.
Judge Raymond G. Thieme said the sentence he imposed last January should not be altered and that Tate's release should be left up to state prison authorities.
"When and under what circumstances the defendant is to be returned to society is a matter properly for the determination of the parole board," the judge wrote in a one-page decision.
Tate was convicted of murdering Jerry Lee Haines, found stabbed 24 times and beaten to death Feb. 24, 1992 outside his Cape St. Claire home.
Tate, a former Broadneck High School quarterback, was jealous of Mr. Haines because the 19-year-old victim had been seeing his former girlfriend, according to police. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last November.
At an emotional hearing last week, lawyers for Tate had asked Judge Thieme to set a specific release date -- even one 30 years away -- arguing that their 18-year-old client may otherwise be "warehoused" for the rest of his life.
Dr. Eric English, an Arnold psychologist retained by the Tates, testified that a release date would help motivate Tate in his therapy at the Patuxent Institution, where he is serving time.
George Lantzas, one of Tate's lawyers, said that under terms of the life sentence, Tate would be eligible for his first parole hearing in about 15 years.
But he said Tate isn't likely to be seriously considered for release for at least 20 years and without a mandatory release date he may spend the rest of his life behind bars "for a crime committed when he was 16."
The victim's family said yesterday that would be just fine with them.
"He has no right to ever walk the streets again," said Jacquelyn Haines, the victim's mother.
The youngest of her four children, Jerry Lee Haines, was 19, worked for a plumbing contractor and lived with his mother at the time he was killed.
Mrs. Haines said that she keeps photographs of her son throughout the family's home.
She has one videotape of her son that she frequently plays and "not a day goes by where I don't think of him constantly."
"I'll never forget the life and the humor he brought to this family," she said.
Rita Tate, Tate's mother, said her son continues to progress at Patuxent and gave a valedictory address last weekend after finishing at the top of his general equivalency diploma class there.
She said that her son experienced mental and emotional problems in the months before the murder, and that she is constantly haunted by questions about things that could have been done to prevent the murder.
"You always look back and say, 'What if, what if?' but ultimately Brian remains responsible for his own actions," she said.
She also feels sorry for the victim and his family.
"I wish there was something we could do for the Haineses, and I'm sure my son Brian now feels the same way," she said. "But I can't help but feel that my son is a victim in this, too."