Md. fugitive captured in Louisiana

The Baltimore Sun

More than a month after he was mistakenly freed from a Maryland prison, a man accused of a 1999 sexual assault involving a cattle prod was arrested in Louisiana after authorities say he broke into a home on Christmas Eve.

Ronald Lee Moore, 40, was picked up in Destrehan, La., where he was spotted riding a bicycle and carrying a bag of tools, said Sgt. Dwayne LaGrange of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Department. Moore, who has been described as a former crack addict with a long history of burglaries, gave an alias but was identified through fingerprints after being taken into custody.

Moore had been on the run since Nov. 21, when he was released from the Baltimore City Correctional Center after serving about seven years of a 13-year sentence for assault and burglary. Officials had been instructed to move Moore to the Anne Arundel County Detention Center but released him because of a clerical error.

"We're relieved that he is back in custody," said Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee. "For the last two or three weeks, he's been somewhere between here and Louisiana, so I can only hope that no one was injured in that span of time."

Moore is to go to trial Feb. 5 on charges of first- and second-degree sex offense, unnatural or perverted practice, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, possession of a deadly weapon and first-degree burglary, stemming from an October 1999 sexual assault.

Charging documents show that a man wearing a mask and gloves forced his way into a Glen Burnie apartment about 1:45 a.m. The man forced the female tenant to perform a sex act, shocked her with a cattle prod and punched her "numerous times" in the head, according to records. Police could not identify a suspect.

In July 2006, police linked Moore's DNA to evidence collected in the investigation of the attack. Moore matched the description given by the victim, and he was charged in May of this year.

Records show that in the months leading up to Moore's release, Anne Arundel County prosecutors had trouble communicating with officials at the Baltimore City Correctional Center. The latter twice failed to take Moore to the Anne Arundel County Circuit Courthouse for hearings on the sexual assault charges, prompting a prosecutor to send a complaint letter at the urging of Judge William C. Mulford.

With Moore's release date nearing, Mulford also issued a commitment order Oct. 9 to keep him in jail. State officials blamed "human error" for Moore's release.

Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said last week that a review of prison procedures was under way but "there is nothing at this time to suggest that this was anything other than a very unfortunate oversight in a very complex case."

Vernarelli could not be reached yesterday.

Moore's release attracted national attention, including a mention on the Web sites of America's Most Wanted and Fox News.

"We received a lot of calls and lots of tips that helped greatly, and we couldn't have done that without the community," said Sgt. Sara Schriver, a spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County Police Department.

In southeastern Louisiana, sheriff's deputies responded to an alarm at a residence about 7 p.m. Dec. 24 and saw evidence of a break-in, LaGrange said. A deputy heading to the scene noticed a man in the area riding a bicycle and holding a bag that contained "burglary tools," he said.

"He was pretty suspicious and, based on his reaction, they made an arrest," said LaGrange, who added that his agency was "extremely excited" to have apprehended a fugitive whose escape garnered national attention.

The parish, with a population of about 48,000, is more than 1,100 miles from Baltimore but has a another connection with the city: it's where Baltimore Ravens defensive backs Ed Reed and Dawan Landry were born.

Moore is charged there with simple burglary, simple criminal damage and misrepresentation during booking; he has been ordered held without bond. Anne Arundel County officials said they expect him to be extradited to Maryland.

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