A man who burglarized a Bolton Hill home in November and was tackled by a retired 80-year-old judge as he tried to flee was sentenced yesterday to 6 1/2 years in prison.
Paul McClaine Jones, 40, pleaded guilty in Baltimore District Court to a count of first-degree burglary and two counts of attempted first-degree burglary after a series of events Nov. 2 that culminated in his being pinned face-down on a West Lafayette Avenue sidewalk.
The knee in his back belonged to Thomas Ward, a former city councilman, retired Baltimore Circuit Court judge and Army paratrooper during World War II, who yesterday described the sentence against Jones as fair and appropriate.
"I don't have a problem with that at all," said Ward, who noted that Jones was on probation at the time of his arrest after having pleaded guilty to a 2006 car theft. Considering that Jones was brought down by a man twice his age, Ward said, "He's been punished already because his reputation is ruined."
Jones was initially charged with 18 counts in the Bolton Hill case, including second-degree assault, burglary, theft and malicious destruction of property. He has been held without bail since his arrest, which took place after Ward, strolling near his home, heard someone hollering for the police. The subject of all the noise was a "pretty good-sized guy" who at that moment was attempting a getaway, the judge said later.
During a tussle in the street, Jones took a swing at the 5-foot-8-inch judge, who then immobilized his assailant by grabbing the coat he wore and twisting it like a noose around his body. As the coat got tighter, Ward said, the man cried out, "You're choking me!"
The coat turned out to belong to the wife of a man whose house had been burglarized. Police said they found a screwdriver in a pocket, as well as two stolen credit cards and the keys to a BMW that Jones did not own. Neighbors said Jones had tried to break into at least two other houses.
Ward, who turned 81 last week and who was a boxer while at Georgetown University, said yesterday that in the months after his apprehension of Jones and an article about it in The Sun he has received "a tremendous reaction" from members of the public.
"People want me to walk their neighborhoods," he said. "They're joking, of course. Only at least half-joking."