Carroll judge orders mother back to prison Woman had violated probation terms set in death of her baby


A Westminster woman who served a controversial 10-month jail sentence for the manslaughter death of her 4-month-old daughter was ordered back to prison yesterday.

With her head bowed, Lisa E. Ruby, 22, stood before Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. and conceded that she drove while intoxicated in December, a violation of her probation in the manslaughter case.

Without comment, Burns reinstated the balance of the nine-year sentence he had imposed in June. He had suspended all but 10 months of that term and placed Ruby on five years' probation with strict conditions.

Critics, including relatives of the infant's father, Michael Meekins, had considered Burns' original sentence too lenient.

With credit for time served, Burns recommended that Ruby serve the balance of her sentence, seven years and 279 days, at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, where she could receive treatment in a young offenders' program.

A standard condition of probation is to obey all laws, so Ruby's drunken-driving conviction in Baltimore County violated that condition, said prosecutor Tracy A. Gilmore, deputy state's attorney for Carroll County.

"Judge Burns is very compassionate," Gilmore said. "He gave her a chance, and everyone hoped she would take advantage of it. Unfortunately, she did not. She had every opportunity," but failed.

Ruby, her brown hair braided and secured with a small red ribbon, told Burns, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you look like a fool."

She was living in Taneytown in August 1996 when she led police to the body of her infant daughter, Tabitha Meekins, which she had hidden under a pile of leaves near Prettyboy Reservoir in northern Baltimore County.

After a six-day trial in March 1997, Burns found Ruby innocent of first-degree murder but guilty of involuntary manslaughter, battery, reckless endangerment and two counts of child abuse.

As a condition of Ruby's probation, she was ordered to attend daily eight-hour counseling sessions at Granite House, a psychiatric-rehabilitation program in Westminster.

Burns had noted that mental health and probation officials said Ruby was no threat to society and further incarceration would be detrimental to her.

According to court records, however, Ruby missed appointments with mental health counselors and failed to attend rehabilitation classes.

Ruby was free until October, when Burns issued a warrant for her arrest after Patricia A. Branch, Ruby's probation agent, notified him of Ruby's lapses.

Branch said Ruby had not attended the Granite House program daily since the first week of October. She said Ruby had skipped work at a fast-food restaurant, missed meetings with her doctor and had not kept an appointment to obtain housing.

Ruby was free on bond, awaiting yesterday's hearing, when she was arrested Dec. 16 on the drunken-driving charge. She was convicted in February in Baltimore County District Court and sentenced to time she had served.

Pub Date: 5/14/98

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