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Bomb scare clears courthouse, but jury returns verdict


A bomb scare at the Carroll County courthouse yesterday didn't stop a jury from deliberating the case of a Sykesville woman accused of child abuse and battery.

The jury of nine women and three men moved to a nearby church for about 90 minutes and returned to Carroll County Circuit Court with a verdict, finding the 44-year-old woman guilty of battery, but not guilty of child abuse.

The woman, who is not being named to protect the privacy of the victim, was accused of kicking a child, now 9 years old, and beating him with a belt on two occasions early last year.

At 1: 45 p.m., while the jury was deliberating, a District Court clerk received a telephone threat, saying that a bomb had been placed in the courthouse, police said.

The unidentified caller -- the voice appeared to be that of a young male -- did not specify which courthouse, so authorities evacuated the historic courthouse and the annex on North Court Street, said Lt. Dean Brewer, a Westminster police spokesman.

Police traced the call to a pay phone outside a convenience store on Liberty Road in Baltimore County, he said. Displaced jury members were ushered across the street to Ascension Episcopal Church, where they reached a verdict minutes before police dogs completed a search about 3: 30 p.m.

No bomb was found and no one was injured, authorities said, but all business conducted in the two courthouses was interrupted for nearly two hours.

After reconvening, Judge Francis M. Arnold apologized to the jury for the inconvenience before asking for a verdict.

According to testimony in the two-day trial, the boy, who does not live in Carroll County, suffered extensive bruising on the buttocks and thighs. The shape of the bruises appeared to have been made by a thin belt.

The maximum sentence in such cases generally is 20 years.

Sentencing was set for April 22.

Pub Date: 2/07/97

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