Former athlete charged with attempted rape in St. Mary's parking lot
By Tim Pratt and firstname.lastname@example.org
Apr 27, 2015 | 3:28 PM
It was about 2:15 a.m. Saturday when Alicia Sweeney was awoken by the screams.
The Annapolis resident said she has heard screaming before, whether it was people partying or enjoying the water of nearby Spa Creek. But this was different.
"You could tell by the tone something wasn't right," she said.
Then everything went quiet, Sweeney said, and remained that way until she heard police officers 20 to 30 minutes later ordering a man to get on the ground. A short time later she saw police leading the man, later identified as 23-year-old Marcus Snipes of Severn, being led away in handcuffs.
Snipes is accused of attempting to rape a 31-year-old woman in the parking lot of St. Mary's Parish and schools early Saturday morning.
A former standout athlete at St. Mary's, St. Frances Academy in Baltimore and Meade High School, Snipes is being held without bond on charges of first- and second-degree assault, attempted first- and second-degree rape, attempted first- and second-degree sex offense, reckless endangerment and false imprisonment.
The incident has shaken Sweeney and other residents of the neighborhood behind St. Mary's, many of whom said Monday they weren't even aware an arrest had been made on their street.
"It's a very nice neighborhood," said Paul Elder, who has lived there since 1984. "I'm very surprised."
Annapolis police were called to the St. Mary's parking lot in the 100 block of Duke of Gloucester Street shortly after 2:15 a.m. Saturday for a report of a woman screaming.
When officers arrived, the woman told police she met Snipes at a bar in downtown Annapolis that night. Snipes then went with the woman and her friends to a handful of other bars before she began to walk home to Eastport, according to charging documents.
Snipes followed the woman, charging documents state, and offered to give her a ride home. He told the woman he parked in the St. Mary's lot.
When the pair started walking onto school property, the woman told police Snipes grabbed her by the back of the neck and forcefully walked her to a dark area where a white pickup truck belonging to the school was parked.
The woman told police Snipes then forced her face against the truck window so she could not move and attempted to rape her. The woman screamed "relentlessly" for help, charging documents state.
St. Mary's communications director Christine Bervid said a volunteer at the parish's Perpetual Adoration Chapel, which allows people to come in to pray 24 hours a day, heard the screaming and called police.
Meanwhile, two women who also heard the screaming rushed to the woman's aid, police said.
Both women witnessed Snipes holding the victim against the truck, charging documents state, with his pants and boxer shorts around his ankles. The victim was swinging wildly at Snipes in an attempt to break free from his grip, according to the documents.
The two women forced Snipes away from the victim, charging documents state, and attempted to hold Snipes until police arrived, but he was able to run away. Sweeney said she was debating whether to call police when the screaming stopped.
Police began searching the area and a K-9 unit tracked Snipes to the back of a home on Shipwright Street, directly behind the parking lot. He was sitting in a chair and "playing with his cellphone" when police found him, charging documents state.
Snipes had several scratches on his neck and face, police said, and his shirt was ripped. Police also detected a strong odor of alcohol.
Snipes was positively identified as the suspect, police said, and transported to the Annapolis police station, where he was charged.
"The quick and decisive actions of our citizens helped stop this attack," said Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop, "and with their help our officers responded swiftly to find the suspect."
The victim had significant bruising and redness on her wrist and hands, police said. She also had a split lower lip where Snipes pushed her head against the truck, according to charging documents.
Although St. Mary's has had people attempt to get into the main church building after hours, Bervid said she's not aware of any previous incidents like this. New lights were put in the parking lot last summer.
"Obviously safety is a big concern for us," she said.
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In May of 2012 a woman told police she was walking down Duke of Gloucester Street at 1:30 a.m. when a man grabbed her from behind, pulled her into an alley and sexually assaulted her. Police released images of a person of interest in the case, but no arrests were ever made.
Snipes has a theft charge on his record from 2011, but no convictions. He earned a number of all-conference and all-state honors while participating in football, basketball and track in high school.
After high school, Snipes played football at Lackawanna Junior College in Pennsylvania, University of Richmond in Virginia, Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania and University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky. He was listed as a senior wide receiver on the University of the Cumberlands football team last fall.
A 2011 story in the Richmond Times Dispatch says Snipes was indefinitely suspended from the football team there for his involvement in a larceny case.