Roderick Hayes was just six months from the end of a 17-year sentence in Jessup when he stole a pair of handguns to sell when he got out. Now he's going back to prison — for a stretch that could end up being twice as long.
Howard County Circuit Judge Timothy J. McCrone sentenced Hayes on Thursday to 36 years in prison for theft, possession of a firearm after being convicted of a violent crime and violating the terms of his probation. The 40-year-old Baltimore man, who was convicted of the charges in February, must serve at least 20 years of the sentence.
Hayes, who had access to the Maryland State Police warehouse near the Waterloo barracks in his role as a prison trusty, stole the Beretta handguns in October 2008 and hid them near an entrance to the Jessup facility.
He was released in December 2008 after completing his 17-year sentence for kidnapping, robbery and assault, but freedom didn't last long: He was arrested in April 2009, after the guns were discovered to be missing during an inventory check.
At his trial, prosecutors played recordings of telephone conversations between the imprisoned Hayes and a man on the outside. Hayes says "I got a stash of guns" and tells the man they would be in a black bag. Hayes also tells the man to "definitely take the serial numbers off immediately."
Hayes, who was on home detention following his release, was arrested at his residence in the 1300 block of Waters Avenue. One of the guns was recovered by Baltimore police during an arrest in May 2009; the other has not turned up.
Public defender Jan DeBoissiere said Hayes was the "only one being punished" for a "crime of opportunity."
As a result of the theft, a civilian employee who was a former state trooper was forced to resign and another state trooper is being investigated. Policy has been changed to prevent inmates from gaining access to stored weapons.
"This is a very unfortunate situation that you were virtually on the precipice of getting released and getting your liberty, and the first opportunity to commit a serious crime, you jumped on it with both feet," McCrone told Hayes.
McCrone said that he took into account Hayes' "record and demonstrated proclivity to commit crimes at any opportunity" in handing down the maximum sentence.
Assistant state's attorney Jim Dietrich said that "the sentence accurately reflected the risk he created and accurately reflected his criminal history."
DeBoissiere declined to comment on her client's sentence.