An Anne Arundel County judge issued a warrant yesterday for a cancer-stricken man who moved to Alabama recently and failed to return to court yesterday to be sentenced for his role in a crash that killed his friend.
Richard Vernon Green, 42, formerly of Columbia Beach, was to be sentenced yesterday for manslaughter in the June 2, 2002, death of Joseph Edward Klotz, 41, of Wayson's Corner. Green was driving drunk when his truck struck a utility pole on Columbia Beach Road after the men left a bar, prosecutors said. Klotz was a passenger.
In March, Green did not take responsibility for the drunken-driving crash but admitted that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.
Sentencing was delayed in part because two of the victim's siblings sought compassion for Green, who said he was dying of cancer, by letting him live his expected few remaining months with his children. He was released, with the possibility that he might be dead by yesterday's scheduled sentencing.
"My nephew Joey is down there with him in Alabama," Chris Klotz of Wayson's Corner, a brother of the victim, said outside the courtroom. Joey, 14, is the victim's son and has remained a close friend of one of Green's sons. "Rick assured me they would be back for this."
Klotz said it was his understanding that Green went to Alabama to see his only close relatives, who would care for the children after he died.
"He went down there and totally deceived me. It's a bitter pill for me, all the way around," Klotz said, noting that Green's failure to admit responsibility for his brother's death has greatly upset the Klotz family.
He said he learned yesterday that Green rented a mobile home near cousins in Alabama but does not know where and is worried about his nephew.
Green's lawyer, assistant public defender Kimber Davis, told Circuit Judge Paul A. Hackner that Green went to Alabama several weeks ago seeking an experimental treatment, was turned down for it and called her Friday to say he was too ill to return. She asked that he be sentenced even though he was not present or that Hackner hold the bench warrant. In March, Davis said Green was remorseful and desperately ill.
Assistant State's Attorney Shelly Stickell said yesterday there was no documentation for experimental treatment and that the most recent medical records were a year old. As far as she knows, she said, Green fled the state "by choice."
Hackner said he could not allow Green to decide not to appear in court and issued the warrant, ordering Green held without bail if arrested.
Stickell said authorities would try to find Green through relatives.
Green maintained that he did not remember anything about the crash, which Stickell said he walked away from. Police placed him at the scene, and investigators found that his version of events did not match the evidence, she said.
"I am very disappointed," Bill Klotz, another brother of the victim, said in an interview yesterday. "I could say I told you so. The thing that has me concerned most is that he has my nephew with him. Him not showing up shows me once again that he is not going to be a man about this and that he was not going to take responsibility for what he did."
In March, Bill Klotz said he hoped Green would receive a stiff sentence. The maximum punishment for manslaughter is 10 years in prison, a sentence rarely meted out.