Hill spared death


Louis Hill III, the 26-year-old businessman convicted of one of the most brutal crimes in recent Baltimore County history, was sentenced yesterday to two consecutive terms of life without parole, plus 80 years.

Harford County Circuit Judge William O. Carr called the 1992 murder of two tellers and the shooting of two other employees at the Farmers Bank & Trust. Co. in Randallstown a "senseless and extremely savage crime." The women were shot as they lay helpless on the bank vault floor.

Hill could have received the death penalty, but Judge Carr, who heard the case when it was transferred from Baltimore County, ruled yesterday that prosecutors had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hill pulled the trigger. There was no camera in the vault, and the two survivors could not say which of two masked bank robbers fired the shots.

Hill, formerly of Stevenson Lane in Towson, knew the sentence before he entered the courtroom yesterday and seemed mostly interested in greeting his family.

He chose to have Judge Carr decide his fate after a jury convicted him Dec. 7 of the premeditated murders of Dorothy J. Langmead and Anastasia "Stacey" George, and the attempted murders of Barbara M. Aldrich and Cindy Ann Thomas. The women were employees of the Farmers Bank & Trust branch in the 9800 block of Liberty Road.

Baltimore County police caught Hill and his co-defendant, Benjamin Franklin Boisseau Jr., 23, minutes after the robbery on Oct. 26, 1992. The men had the stolen money, as well as masks, clothing, gloves and Hill's Mac-11 Cobray automatic pistol. Boisseau is serving multiple life sentences for his role in the crime.

Judge Carr, who considered Hill's sentence for two months, also found that prosecutors failed to prove that the aggravating circumstances of the crime outweighed the mitigating evidence presented in Hill's defense.

He noted that reputable character witnesses from all over the East Coast traveled to Bel Air to testify on the defendant's behalf. He referred to Hill, a Morehouse College graduate and operator of a cleaning business, as "an enigma."

"Typically, in cases such as this one, the defendant is a product of an emotionally, intellectually and financially impoverished background [with] significant contacts with the criminal justice system," the judge said.

Hill, who comes from a strong family with a religious background, "has certainly made a deep and favorable impression on those who observed him growing up and since he has finished college."

The judge said he had to decide if the penalty applied to a "single mad act that for all appearances is an aberration for a life otherwise well spent, or whether a broader view should be taken."

Assistant State's Attorney S. Ann Brobst said, "A sentence of life without parole is a serious sentence. Certainly he deserves no less."

Although each murder case "is the worst in its own way," said Ms. Brobst, "factually, this is as death-eligible a case as I've ever seen."

Hill's father, Hollis L. Hill, 50, a former social worker and a Randallstown businessman, said, "There's no way we can be pleased. We're in the middle. I guess we really feel thanks to the attorneys [and] we thank the judge for his sensitivity in this case. . . . We want to emphasize that our hearts go out to the victims' families. They've lost an important part of their families, too."

Mrs. Aldrich and Mrs. Langmead's husband, Michael, said after the verdict that they didn't think the death penalty would help.

Mrs. George's husband said he is still too devastated to discuss the case. Ms. Thomas, who has little recollection of that day, favored death for Hill.

Hill's attorneys said they will appeal the conviction.

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