A 58-year-old Parkville man, accused of trying to have a 9-year-old boy killed to keep the child from testifying about sexual abuse, was sentenced yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court to 30 years on the abuse charges.
Roland Wayne Palmer of the 8600 block of Rock Oak Road was sentenced before Judge Dana M. Levitz as part of a binding plea agreement reached yesterday by prosecutors and Palmer's lawyer shortly before the jury trial was scheduled to begin.
Palmer pleaded guilty to a first-degree sex offense. In exchange, Assistant State's Attorney Stephen Renn Roscher agreed to drop a charge of solicitation to commit murder.
Palmer was a neighbor and occasional baby sitter for the boy. He forced the child to perform sex acts in November 1997, at least once at gunpoint, Roscher said.
The assaults were not reported until January 1999, when the boy's mother overheard his younger brother teasing him about it, Roscher said.
Palmer was charged with child abuse and released on $50,000 bail Feb. 22, 1999, on the condition that he have no contact with the victim.
Palmer's bail was revoked Nov. 2, after he confronted the boy in their neighborhood. About two weeks later, he asked a fellow inmate at the Baltimore County Detention Center to kill the victim, Roscher said.
Palmer offered the inmate about $3,000 to kill the boy, drew a map showing where the boy lived and told the inmate where he could find a gun Palmer kept in his bedroom, Roscher said.
The inmate reported Palmer's plan to county police, Roscher said.
Roscher said he dropped the solicitation charge and accepted the plea agreement because the 30-year sentence ensures that Palmer will not be eligible for parole until he is in his 70s and the victim is an adult.
"I wanted to make sure that as a child, this boy would never have to worry about this defendant coming back into his neighborhood," Roscher said.
G. Warren Mix, Palmer's lawyer, said Palmer had no criminal record before he was charged and that he entered an Alford plea, not admitting guilt but acknowledging that the state had sufficient evidence to convict him.
He said that his client is unemployed, has had a leg amputated, has been a widower for 12 years.
"It's been a difficult case all around," Mix said.