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Stokes sent to prison for parole violation

Saying that Dontee D. Stokes' "true personality has finally shined through," Baltimore Circuit Judge John N. Prevas yesterday sentenced the West Baltimore barber to prison for a short stay because he violated his 18-month house arrest sentence he received in February for shooting a Baltimore priest.

Prevas scolded Stokes, 27, for attending the ArtScape street festival July 25 without receiving permission from his home detention supervisor, Charles G. Winchester.

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Prevas said the action "speaks volumes" about Stokes. He had no right to decide whether to attend the city festival, Prevas said.

Prevas told Stokes that his attitude toward home detention - which allows him leave to go to church and to his job at a barbershop - was not properly mindful. Winchester testified that he had called Stokes to forbid him from going to ArtScape. Stokes claimed he received the message too late.

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The judge said his ruling will require that Stokes do minimal prison time - most likely a week's stay that will include the Labor Day weekend. Also, Prevas said, the rules of "mandatory release" into probation would apply because Stokes has served most of his time - 15 months of the 18-month sentence.

Stokes accused the Rev. Maurice J. Blackwell of abusing him when he was a youth. That allegation became the bedrock of his defense when Stokes stood trial earlier this year in the shooting of Blackwell in May last year. Cardinal William H. Keeler apologized in court to Stokes.

This week, Stokes was charged with assaulting the mother of his child in a domestic dispute. That case was the subject of a separate hearing yesterday in Baltimore District Court; Prevas' ruling was based solely on the ArtScape incident.

Stokes' family members cried out at the sight of Stokes being led away in handcuffs. Stokes' attorney, Warren A. Brown, hushed them in the hallway, saying: "It will be days, a week or 10 days. He came in here looking at life imprisonment."

Stokes' mother, Tamara Stokes, said, "No mother wants to see her child put away in jail any length of time."

Outside the courthouse, Brown told reporters there is a "silver lining" to Prevas' ruling.

"Soon he'll come and go as he pleases, and really get on with his life. There's a certain indignity in wearing an ankle bracelet," Brown said.

Family members were angry about the punishment because Stokes said he had gone to ArtScape as a volunteer. "What kind of message is the judge sending?" asked his aunt, Thomasina Wells.

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Brown said Stokes had received permission from Prevas to do public speaking in the past year, despite his home detention status.

In a second court hearing yesterday relating to the assault charge against Stokes, he and the mother of his 3-year-old child, Tiffani Taft, stood before District Judge Jamey H. Weitzman and, under a court consent order, agreed to stay away from each other for a year.

Police say Stokes assaulted Taft on Tuesday at the barbershop where he works. Court papers allege Stokes hit her in the face and pushed her into a wall.

Under the consent order, Taft will receive $175 a month from Stokes for "emergency family maintenance." She agreed to share custody of the child with Stokes.


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