33 years for crime wave

The Baltimore Sun

A Howard County circuit judge sentenced a Columbia man yesterday to more than 30 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to a 25-day wave of home invasions and robberies, and an assault on a woman whom he choked until she lost consciousness in December 2006.

In October, Ronnie Gordon Smith Jr., 40, pleaded guilty in Howard County Circuit Court in Ellicott City to two counts of first-degree burglary and one count each of robbery, first-degree assault and armed robbery.

Assistant State's Attorney James Dietrich recommended 65 years for the four break-ins, but Judge Diane O. Leasure sentenced Smith to 33 years.

The most violent of the crimes occurred Dec. 11, 2006. A woman who was 24 at the time said she arrived at her Columbia apartment about 6 p.m. and that after she opened the door, she was hit repeatedly on the head and face with fists and a flashlight, the Howard County state's attorney's office said. She was then handcuffed and a sock was stuffed into her mouth.

As she went in and out of consciousness, the woman said, Smith sexually assaulted her. She said she persuaded him not to rape her by lying and telling him that she had a sexually transmitted disease. Smith left, taking electronics and jewelry that he later pawned.

"I'm sorry to all the victims for my actions," Smith said before being sentenced yesterday. "One day, hopefully, they will forgive me."

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