Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The day finally came where Joe Albero has been exposed for the world to see by the Foxwell family as a criminal toward the family as much as Thomas Leggs.
Roberta Wexler stood in front of everyone and what they saw on wboc was the thoughts of almost everyone toward this monster of a man. I have been battling this asshole for years, me and him locked in an epic battle over everything, and for someone to finally expose him on television was the best thing that could have ever happened for us all.
I have been an ass I admit it to some people that I regret in this war with this man, but I am glad to see others see what I have been dealing with. Joe Albero has terrorized and harassed Salisbury for long enough and I hope with this public outing of him on TV his advertisers will see he is a cancer.
Let us all hope this is the end of sbynews reign of terror on all of us and we will begin to live a happier life.
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 3/29/2011 01:20:00 PM
Some cases are so serious that the death penalty is the appropriate punishment. In my judgment, the case of State v. Thomas Leggs is one of those cases. Soon after the arrest of Thomas Leggs, the State weighed the facts of this case as provided by State law and determined that the aggravating facts of the case (which I choose not to go into at this time out of dignity to the victim and her family) clearly outweighed any mitigating factors, of which there were none.
The history of the death penalty in Maryland is a long one. The death penalty was adopted in 1975. It was not until 1994 that the first person was actually executed and that was John Frederick Thanos, who was sentenced to death in 2 different counties and actually wanted to die. He did not oppose any of his post trial rights other than the first automatic appeal required by law. Only 4 others have been executed since then. There are currently 5 men on death row, one of whom is for a Wicomico County homicide.
Two men currently on death row who have served the longest period of time since they were first sentenced to death are Anthony Grandison, who was tried and sentenced in Somerset County, and Vernon Evans, who was first tried in Worcester County. Both of these men were sentenced to death in 1983. Since then there have been constant appeal hearings, post trial hearings, appeals of those post trial hearings, writs of habeas corpus hearings, etc. and neither man has yet to be executed.
While the law in the State of Maryland leaves the discretion of seeking the death penalty solely to the State’s Attorney for each county, that discretion cannot be exercised in a vacuum. In virtually every case, the victim of a death penalty eligible case leaves behind loved ones. The Sarah Foxwell/Thomas Leggs case is no exception.
Normally, after a defendant is sentenced, the victim’s family obtains some degree of closure, at least as much as they may ever have following the murder of a loved one. In a death penalty case, however, closure is substantially delayed. The case does not end unless and until the defendant is executed, and as I hope I have demonstrated, that may take decades, if it ever happens at all (and that it may never happen at all is certainly a possibility in the State of Maryland).
Every time there is another trial, another hearing, another motion or petition filed, the State notifies the victim’s representative, as it is required to do by State law and common decency. When that notice is made, the scab is ripped off of the family’s wound once again. The grieving and anguish is brought back to the front and center of the family’s life causing turmoil, stress, and sadness. Some families are willing, sometimes even eager, to go through this for the sake of getting what they deem to be a just sentence; others are not.
Since I became State’s Attorney, I have made a point of meeting with Sarah Foxwell’s family to talk about the case and to find out what their desires were. And when we were finally approached by the Defense attorneys for Thomas Leggs and asked if there was any way that we could resolve this case without a trial, we were obligated to discuss the options with the Foxwell family. We met with them several times and each time they expressed their preference that the State not seek the death penalty if the State could ensure that Leggs would plead guilty in open court to all of the crimes charged and that he would receive the sentences contemplated in the plea agreement. The Foxwell family has told me that they do not want a lifetime of anguish and appeals. Due to the extreme stress, havoc and grief the death of Sarah has caused them and their need to begin healing from this horrible, despicable crime, and because they wished to protect Sarah’s sister, a 7 year old material witness in the case, they have unanimously requested that we withdraw our notice to seek the death penalty in consideration for the plea agreement placed on the record today.
Realizing that despite their feelings the law does not give the victim’s family veto power over the State’s intent to seek the death penalty, I also met with the law enforcement community to weigh their concerns and feelings with those of the Foxwell family. I have spoken with Sheriff Mike Lewis, Lt. Ernie Leatherbury and the detectives who worked so tirelessly to find Sarah and solve the case. All unanimously agreed that an attempt should be made to honor the request of the Foxwell family. Because our case was so strong, and because the evidence (both physical and forensic, including DNA evidence) against Thomas Leggs was so overwhelming, we insisted on certain conditions which are as follows:
1. Thomas Leggs must plead guilty to all counts charged in State of Maryland v. Thomas J. Leggs, Jr.
2. As a condition precedent to the entry of the guilty plea, Mr. Leggs had to agree to return to the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office to be questioned by detectives from the Wicomico County Bureau of Investigation, and truthfully answer all questions asked relating to when, how and or why he committed the crimes charged in the case. The Foxwell family provided me with a list of questions that they wanted answers to, which were provided to detectives and which were asked to Thomas Leggs. Mr. Leggs was brought back to the Wicomico County Sheriff’s office on the morning of Thursday, March 24, 2011 and satisfied the condition precedent. The next day I personally gave the Foxwells the answers to their questions.
3. The Defendant had to agree to an interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). The BAU studies pedophiles and uses the information that they glean from such interviews to assist law enforcement agencies in identifying and catching offenders faster.
4. The Defendant agreed to receive the following binding sentences:
a. As to Count One, First Degree Murder, the Defendant received a sentence of Life Without the Possibility of Parole, consecutive to any other sentence previously imposed upon the Defendant in Wicomico County or in any other jurisdiction;
b. As to Count Six, First Degree Sex Offense, the Defendant received a second sentence of Life Without the Possibility of Parole, consecutive to Count One, and consecutive to any previously imposed sentences upon the Defendant in Wicomico County or in any other jurisdiction;
c. As to Count Four, Kidnapping, the Defendant received a sentence of thirty (30) years, to be imposed consecutively to Count One and Count Six, and consecutively to any other previously imposed sentences in Wicomico County or in any other jurisdiction;
d. As to Count Two, First Degree Burglary, the Defendant received a sentence of twenty (20) years, to be imposed consecutively to Count One, Count Six, and Count Four, and consecutively to any other previously imposed sentences in Wicomico County or in any other jurisdiction; and
e. The State agrees that all remaining counts will merge for purposes of sentencing.
5. All members of the Foxwell family that wished to give a victim impact statement either orally or in writing were permitted to do so. (Note: in a Death Penalty case, only one family member could make the statement).
6. The Defendant cannot profit from his criminal activity pursuant to the Annotated Code of Maryland, Criminal Procedure Article Section 11-621, et seq.
Given the history of the death penalty in the State of Maryland and the wishes of the victim’s family, I reached the conclusion that despite the fact that the law provides for the penalty of death, and that I personally believe that Thomas Leggs deserves to be executed, nonetheless I do not feel that I should force Sarah Foxwell’s family to suffer a life of constant upheaval and turmoil. A death sentence for Thomas Leggs would have resulted in a life sentence for the Foxwell family.
It is important to note that this case was disposed of by way of a guilty plea. By law, that limits the Defendant’s appellate rights to generally three areas: jurisdiction of the court, illegal sentence, and incompetency of counsel. While I am not saying that there will be no appeals by Mr. Leggs, I am saying that his arguments on appeal are severely limited by virtue of his guilty pleas.
I am aware that this case has piqued the interest and sympathy, not only of the citizens of Wicomico County, but of the entire lower Eastern Shore. I am aware also that my decision to withdraw the notice to seek the death penalty will disappoint some but I am confident that the decision is in the best of interest of justice.
The outpouring of support for law enforcement in this case and sympathy for the family has not gone unnoticed. The citizens of Wicomico County will never forget how so many people came out on Christmas day 2009, a day normally reserved for joy and happiness with one’s own family, to find Sarah Foxwell.
I would like to personally thank Davis Ruark, Abby Marsh, Sheriff Lewis, the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wicomico County Bureau of investigation for their efforts in this case, as well as Lt. Ernie Leatherbury and the members of the Maryland State Police, and MSP Homicide. I also wish to thank the Medical Examiner’s Office, especially Mary Ripple, whose labor was crucial to the resolution of this case. I would also like to thank Dan Spotts, the FBI and the BAU, and of course, all other law enforcement agencies and personnel (Salisbury Police Department, Ocean City Police Department, Fruitland Police Department, Delmar Police Department), and all of the private citizens who helped bring Sarah home and put her murderer behind bars for the rest of his natural life.
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 3/29/2011 01:19:00 PM
With the announcement today of the plea deal for Thomas Leggs I want to congratulate Matt and all the fine people that worked on this case. What Matt did at the request of the Foxwell family was save the taxpayers loads of money and the family lots of heartache. For all you who aren't satisfied because Legg's deserved to die for his crimes, Matt agrees but as stated at his press conference you have people sitting on death row since 1983 and they are still alive.
Matt Maciarello has shown true leadership and ability with this case and I want to thank him and every one involved In this case including Mike Lewis.
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 3/29/2011 12:51:00 PM
I know as I have been contacted for several days on this matter by readers who are awaiting my posts regarding this matter and I just ask you to be patient. I will have 3 posts regarding this case this afternoon and they are ones you don't want to miss. WMDT is reporting a plea deal has been struck so stay tuned as the news trickles out of Cecil County
And FYI this isn't hit whoring because after these posts today you will understand my reasoning.
And FYI this isn't hit whoring because after these posts today you will understand my reasoning.
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 3/29/2011 11:52:00 AM
I have been contacted by several businesses that claim Jim Ireton has asked them not to call the Salisbury Police Department for what Jim calls "trivial" matters. One owner of a bar who has problems with unruly patrons at times was reportedly asked to not bother Police with those issues and this person fears if he does Jim will come after the business.
This is not in any way aimed at our Officers in the Salisbury Police Department who do such a great job every day, but an administration trying to make his crime plans look more successful then they really are.
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 3/29/2011 11:02:00 AM
It has become quite obvious with the increased powers given to Neighborhood Services and Code Compliance that Jim Ireton is using them as his Gestapo on the rental industry. Last night they wanted further power to cite people for overhanging trees or shrubs on properties. I wasn't aware we had tree experts on staff until last night when Tom Stevenson said they had them.
Neighborhood Services does alot of good, but with Jim at the helm they are turning into a nightmare on the renters in this City. A very good point was made last night if the City can't keep it's own properties up to code how can we tell others to do the same...but this is the way things are in Jim's world
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 3/29/2011 09:53:00 AM
I was saddened to see the news yesterday of the unattended death Downtown near the parking garage, but it really brought to light I believe the growing problem Downtown with our homeless.
If Salisbury ever wants to grow and become a better City we need to find our homeless a place that can go instead of living out in the streets. Last month there was an article about the increase of the homeless that were hanging out at the Library which is of course right near the parking garage. If you are from Salisbury you know that we have a large population of homeless living in the woods and all over the area, but a growing number have moved Downtown.
If you have time go park your car anywhere Downtown and sit and watch the people and you will likely see someone without shoes or ripped up clothes walking the Downtown Plaza, or sitting in front of WMDT looking at TV. I wish we could as a community care more about these people and join together to offer them a shelter. I am ashamed of all of us when we complain about higher tax on this or that but when we look at our situation we live like kings to these people.
Posted by Jonathan Taylor at 3/29/2011 08:27:00 AM