A 40-year-old man convicted of trying to kill the mother of his children was given an early release from prison yesterday by a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge who agreed to reduce the man's sentence from nine years to the four he already has served.
A lawyer for Kevin Derrick Adams characterized the Baltimore man as an "exemplary model inmate" who has attended anger-management and domestic-violence classes in prison and now realizes the seriousness of a crime that he couldn't even admit to at his sentencing hearing in 2001.
But the county prosecutor who handled the attempted-murder case and opposed Adams' request for a lesser sentence during yesterday's hearing argued that the reduction of an already lenient sentence would be inappropriate given the viciousness of Adams' knife attack on his former girlfriend.
"I don't see how a sentence imposed in [July 2001] becomes any less fair or any less right simply because he's served part of his sentence. The undoing of justice is what it seems like to me," Stephen Bailey, the county's deputy state's attorney, said after yesterday's hearing.
Lawyers had picked a jury and were ready to begin the trial in May 2001 when Adams decided to plead guilty to attempted second-degree murder. The deal took the form of an Alford plea, in which Adams did not admit repeatedly stabbing his girlfriend but agreed that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.
The victim, Janine Williams, was taken Sept. 5, 2000, to Maryland Shock Trauma Center with life-threatening stab wounds to her back, according to court documents. She told police that Adams had punched her and that she only realized she'd been stabbed when she saw a butcher's knife lying on the floor of the Parkville house where she had met him to pick up their two children, according to court documents.
Adams was charged the next day.
Two months earlier, in July 2000, Williams had obtained a protective order against Adams, her boyfriend of at least seven years, after he was accused of punching her and telling her that he "could have her killed," court records show.
Sentencing guidelines recommended a prison term of 12 to 20 years. At a sentencing hearing July 26, 2001, Baltimore County Circuit Judge Christian M. Kahl gave Adams a nine-year prison term, having suspended six years of a 15-year sentence. The suspended sentence means that Adams could be ordered to serve the rest of the 15 years if he violates any conditions of his probation after release.
Defense attorney Jack B. Rubin told the judge that he and his client - who he said worked as a financial consultant before his arrest - made their request for a sentence modification while "not unmindful or insensitive" to the facts of the case that had been before Kahl four years ago.
"The crime has never changed. The defendant has," Rubin said in court.
Bailey, the prosecutor, said that the sentence modification procedure was not meant to turn trial judges into parole commissioners. He cautioned the judge that Adams' case was very different from that of someone convicted of a nonviolent crime who serves his full sentence and seeks to have his record cleared of a conviction by later requesting a new sentence of probation before judgment.
"These are the kinds of modifications that erode public confidence," Bailey said in court.
Bailey said his attempts to contact Williams to tell her of the hearing were unsuccessful.
Warning Adams yesterday that he remains "on thin ice" with the balance of the 15-year prison term hanging over his head, Kahl agreed to reduce the defendant's sentence to the four years and three months he has already served.
"It is a rare thing for a defendant to show progress and rehabilitation as dramatically as has Mr. Adams," Kahl said in court.