When police began searching Timonium in October 1995 for a man who hijacked a United Parcel Service truck, they stopped a suspect three times who was sweating and short of breath -- but let him go when he flashed his Baltimore County police badge.
The fourth time, they arrested veteran police Officer Joseph Goetz. Yesterday, Goetz pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon and using a handgun in a crime of violence.
Charges of carjacking, kidnapping, battery, theft and other handgun violations were dropped.
Court documents said Goetz, 36, a 10-year veteran, was depressed at the time of his arrest. He has been suspended without pay since then. He could receive five to nine years in prison.
His lawyer, Kimberly A. Kelly, said the day of the incident was Goetz's 18th wedding anniversary to his then-estranged wife. They now are divorced.
Goetz's plea yesterday came in the form of an Alford plea, in which he acknowledged that there was a preponderance of evidence against him. Kelly dropped her client's insanity plea, which was to have been part of his criminal defense had a trial gone ahead as scheduled today.
Baltimore County Circuit Judge Dana M. Levitz scheduled sentencing for July 2.
A statement of facts said UPS driver William Yohn was near Timonium Shopping Center at lunchtime on Oct. 10, 1995, when a man asked the time, then pointed a gun, saying, "I don't want to hurt you. I just want the truck."
The man, later identified as Goetz, tied up Yohn, put on his brown UPS shirt and drove off with Yohn in the back of the truck.
Yohn escaped through the passenger door with his hands tied behind his back. A passer-by, who recognized the UPS man, drove him to a telephone where they called police.
After the UPS truck was abandoned, several police officers, detectives and a police helicopter searched for the robber for more than an hour.
Goetz was arrested when Officer Michael Snyder, who had been patrolling near the light rail line, noticed Goetz's "pant legs and shoes were wet and leaves were on his left shoulder" and recalled that the suspect was reported running through a stream after ditching the truck.
Evidence that would have been presented by prosecutors included footprints in the woods that matched Goetz's shoes.
Pub Date: 4/15/97