Two judges sentence robbery defendant


In an unusual move, two Howard County Circuit Court judges presided yesterday over the sentencing of an Ellicott City man who was convicted for his role in the April armed robbery of the Columbia Hilton Inn.

The two-judge sentencing resulted because Judge James B. Dudley became ill with asthma after the first day of the jury trial last month and did not return to court, leaving Judge Diane O. Leasure to oversee the second and final day.

"That's the first time I ever had that [happen]," prosecutor Claude de Vastey said. "It's very unusual."

Leasure and Dudley sentenced Philip A. Williams, 26, of the 3200 block of Sonia Terrace to 10 years, suspending all but six years.

Rather than declare a mistrial after Dudley's illness, the lawyers agreed that Leasure could finish the trial. She heard the defense case, which included one witness.

"The question always was who would be the one to do the sentencing," Leasure said. "It just made sense to us, and the parities agreed that we should both be involved in the sentencing."

Leasure said she had never before sentenced a defendant with a another judge. "It doesn't happen often at all," she said.

The front-desk attendant at the hotel on Twin Knolls Road reported that at 2:23 a.m. April 21, he saw two men standing by the safes behind the front desk, according to charging documents. One of the men held what appeared to be a semi- automatic pistol, and the men demanded money.

The employee complied, and the suspects took less than $200 in currency and $9 in quarters.

The employee activated a silent alarm. Minutes later, a police officer saw a Ford Taurus station wagon turning onto eastbound Route 175 and recognized the car as belonging to Charles C. Williams based on Williams' criminal record, according to charging documents.

The car was stopped, and Philip A. Williams and Charles C. Williams, who are not related, were detained.

In the car, police found a black-and-silver pellet gun, a copper-colored replica handgun that turned out to be a cigarette lighter and $9 in quarters, according to charging documents.

Charles C. Williams, 29, of the 5300 block of Harpers Farm Road was convicted of robbery and robbery with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 10 years in prison last month.

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