Ellicott City man, 19, gets probation in rock-throwing


A 19-year-old Ellicott City man was sentenced Friday to five years of probation and ordered to perform more than 2,000 hours of community service for his role in a rock-throwing in 1998 that left a 13-year-old boy seriously injured.

In Howard Circuit Court, John M. Messner also received six months in prison that will start Oct. 31, 2001, and he was ordered to pay up to $22,680 in restitution for injuries and damage caused to cars by thrown rocks.

The jail sentence probably wasdeferred to give Messner a chance to impress Judge Lenore R. Gelfman into withdrawing the prison term.

Messner denied that he threw rocks or was part of a group of boys throwing rocks at cars traveling from eastbound Route 108 onto U.S. 29 on Oct. 30, 1998.

A grapefruit-sized rock shattered a window of a van and struck the head of then 13-year-old Joshua Morrison of Ellicott City. Joshua underwent extensive surgery and a titanium plate was put in his head.

Though Messner apologized Friday, he continued to deny involvement with the group tossing rocks onto the highway. He said during his trial in November that he was smoking marijuana in a nearby parking lot.

Messner was convicted in a trial on charges of conspiring to commit second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and malicious destruction of property.

Messner said in a statement to police after the incident that he had handled a rock.

Another 19-year-old, Jeffrey H. Cabiness, was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay more than $3,000 in restitution for his involvement with the group at his sentencing in February. Cabiness also received an 18-month suspended jail sentence. Four other boys, all juveniles, were found in juvenile court to be involved in the rock-throwing. All received probation and community service.

Messner was ordered to tour Maryland Shock Trauma Center, the Howard County Detention Center and a state prison. He must perform some of his community service speaking to schoolchildren.

The amount of restitution Messner must pay depends on how much the others involved in the case end up paying. Messner must pay up to $22,680.34 by Oct. 31, 2001, for Joshua's medical bills and to repair damage to the van and other cars damaged by thrown rocks that day.

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