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'I wanted to get caught,' says robbery suspect Columbia man tells judge he wants to be 'protected' from his former wife


Columbia man charged with robbing his neighborhood bank said at his bail review hearing Friday that he robbed the bank because he wanted to be arrested.

"I robbed the bank yesterday morning," Peter Laurence Axelrod, 49, said in Howard County District Court. "I've already admitted it and wanted to get caught."

After apologizing for his ill-fitting jail-issue clothing, Mr. Axelrod resolutely told the judge that he wanted to be arrested so he could avoid being harassed by his former wife, who was not identified in court.

"I had a choice of suicide or jail, and I chose jail because I am not suicidal," he told the court.

Judge Louis A. Becker III ordered Mr. Axelrod held without bail until the judge receives the results of a psychological evaluation.

Mr. Axelrod told the judge he didn't want legal representation or a delay in the proceedings.

"I was cooperative yesterday and will continue to be cooperative," he said. "I'm a nice man. I just need to be protected."

When Judge Becker again asked him whether he wanted a lawyer, Mr. Axelrod responded firmly, "No, sir, I want to go to jail."

Judge Becker explained court procedures to Mr. Axelrod, saying a grand jury would determine whether there is probable cause to indict him.

"We know there's probable cause," Mr. Axelrod said. "I robbed a bank."

Mr. Axelrod is charged with robbery and theft.

If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

The Oakland Mills village branch of the First National Bank oMaryland was robbed Thursday morning by a man who handed the teller a note stating he wanted 26 $100 bills.

Why the robber demanded that amount was not known.

The teller complied with the demand as another employee called police.

County officers arrested Mr. Axelrod shortly after he left the bank.

Bank employees told police they recognized him as a regular customer.

Mr. Axelrod lives in the Autumncrest apartments in the 5700 block of Stevens Forest Road, within an easy walk of the bank.

He told the judge he is director of human relations at Kaydon Ring & Seal Inc., an industrial seal manufacturer on Wicomico Street in Baltimore.

"I would guess that my employer would be discharging me within the next day or two," he said.

Arthur Ridler, general manager of the company, confirmed that Mr. Axelrod has handled personnel matters for the company, which has about 350 employees, since the end of 1992.

hTC He would not say whether Mr. Axelrod was still employed by the company.

Mr. Axelrod will be evaluated at Howard County General Hospital, according to the clerk for the District Court.

A person is assumed to be competent to stand trial if he appreciates that he is in jail facing a charge and can assist in his defense, said Christine Gage, supervisor of the state's attorney's office.

Deciding a person's competency to stand trial is not related to criminal responsibility, Ms. Gage said.

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