Former police officer receives 5-year term in truck hijacking Medicine may have caused 'episode,' doctor says

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A former Baltimore County police officer was given a five-year prison sentence yesterday for the 1995 hijacking of a United Parcel Service truck, despite his psychiatrist's testimony that allergy medicine may have caused a psychotic episode that led to crime.

Dr. Dennis J. Kutzer, who has treated Joseph Goetz since he was arrested for holding up a UPS driver at gunpoint and stealing his truck, said the crime might have been prompted by the two or three allergy tablets Goetz took the day he commandeered the truck.

Kutzer said that because Goetz, 36, suffered from a personality disorder, the medication could have put the 11-year police veteran into a "brief psychotic episode." A later experiment with the same medicine put Goetz into a "deep daydream," said the doctor.

Goetz was dismissed from the police force because of the hijacking.

Asking for leniency, Goetz told Circuit Judge Dana M. Levitz that he had "no idea" why he committed the crime and barely remembered the lunchtime hijacking on York Road near the Timonium Shopping Center on Oct. 10, 1995.

"Everything seemed like it was in slow motion," Goetz said, adding that he was under stress from working two jobs and sleeping little. He also said he was upset by a long separation from his wife and noted that the hijacking was on his 18th wedding anniversary. The couple has since divorced.

In sentencing Goetz, Levitz called the crime an "aberration" and noted that "to say this case is inexplicable is stating the obvious. It just doesn't make any sense."

The judge said he would have given Goetz a lighter sentence, but state law mandates a sentence of at least five years for a violent crime with a gun.

Prosecutors asked for a nine-year sentence, arguing that Goetz's criminal actions that day were premeditated.

"He planned this armed robbery," said Assistant State's Attorney Jason League. "It was not simply a fog he was in. He violated his oath as a police officer."

The UPS driver, William Yohn, told the judge that "my life was forever changed" by Goetz's crime.

Yohn said injuries from the hijacking -- when he was tied up in the back of his truck -- left him with partial disability of the neck, back and foot.

Pub Date: 7/10/97

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