A Bacontown man with a record of domestic violence was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison for killing his longtime girlfriend during a quarrel in the home they shared.
Arnold Wilfred Munford Jr., 51, who was convicted of manslaughter, said nothing during the brief sentencing hearing before Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Philip T. Caroom, during which a prosecutor described him as a problem drinker with 18 prior convictions.
At least five of the convictions were for domestic assaults, four on the mother of three of his nine children and one on Maggie McLaurin, whom he fatally stabbed July 7.
"I think the problem is one that you have to address yourself, and it has gotten as serious as a problem could be," Caroom told Munford.
McLaurin, Munford's girlfriend of about seven years, accused him of seeing other women. In the fight that ensued, he stabbed her in the abdomen with a steak knife.
They were squatting in a run-down house, their belongings in heaps on the floor, said Kelly Poma, an assistant state's attorney.
Munford was charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty in December to manslaughter. The 10-year sentence was the maximum for manslaughter.
Prosecutors said they could not prove that Munford intended to kill McLaurin, 50. Both might have been drinking, and prosecutors had little beyond Munford's account to police.
Munford's lawyer, assistant public defender William Davis, asked for a shorter prison term, contending that Munford had tried to get McLaurin to go to a hospital but that she refused and he tended to the wound with rags.
The judge said Munford could have taken the initiative to call for an ambulance.
Late the next afternoon, he ran out of the house in the 3500 block of Spring Road, seeking help because McLaurin had stopped breathing.
The knife had cut through an artery and into her bowel, causing extensive internal bleeding.
The couple was well-known in the Bacontown section of Laurel. Munford was jailed for 90 days for assaulting McLaurin in 2000, according to court records.
After Munford was arrested in July, his cousin Stephanie Hatchett said he and McLaurin had struggled with alcoholism.
Davis said yesterday that a cousin in Laurel considered Munford "one of the nicest persons" when he was sober but troubling when intoxicated.
The cousin was willing to let Munford move in if he did not drink, Davis said.
Munford's criminal record includes convictions for battery, theft and burglary.
No friends or relatives of the victim or the defendant were in the courtroom, which Poma said is unusual for such a serious crime.
McLaurin was estranged from her elderly mother, who lives in North Carolina. Munford recently re-established contact with one of his children, a teen-age girl, Davis said. He fathered nine children with five women.
Munford lived his entire life in Bacontown but was often homeless, Hatchett said at the time of Munford's arrest.