- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2002

FREDERICK, Md. A judge sentenced a mentally retarded ex-convict yesterday to two consecutive life sentences plus 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting and murdering a 9-year-old boy.
The sentence, with no possibility of parole, was aimed at ensuring that Elmer Spencer Jr. never walks free again, Frederick County Circuit Judge G. Edward Dwyer said.
Spencer, 46, maintained the same impassive expression he wore during his 15-day trial. He was convicted Feb. 20 of first-degree murder, first-degree sexual offense and child abduction for the beating and strangulation death of Christopher Ausherman Jr.
"This is the type of crime that does require the maximum," Judge Dwyer told Spencer. "It requires that you be removed from the community so future Christopher Aushermans are forever protected."
Spencer was ineligible for the death penalty because his IQ has consistently been tested below 70, the limit under a Maryland law that prohibits executing the retarded.
Christoher's mother, Mary Voit, said losing her son 17 months ago "was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life," according to a written statement read aloud by State's Attorney Scott Rolle.
"I hope someday this pain will ease."
She and the boy's father, Christopher Ausherman Sr., have filed a tort claim with the state treasurer's office, signaling their intention to sue the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for failing to prevent the attack.
Spencer, who has a long history of violent and sexual offenses, was freed from prison under mandatory early-release rules five days before the boy was killed Nov. 19, 2000.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Leonard Sipes said the agency does not comment on pending lawsuits as a matter of policy.
Mr. Rolle called the murder "one of the most heartbreaking cases in the history of Frederick County." The case prompted two bills, dubbed "Christopher's Laws," that Gov. Parris N. Glendening signed into law last week, toughening the potential sentences for certain repeat sex offenders.
Public Defender Franklin Stillrich said the public's desire to lock up such criminals ignores the need for psychiatric treatment of people like Spencer, who apparently never received therapy during more than 20 years behind bars despite a schizophrenia diagnosis and a history of childhood abuse.
"Our society passes all kinds of laws let's put 'em away but our society has failed failed miserably," Mr. Stillrich said during the sentencing hearing.
Spencer served about 3 years of his previous sentence, a 10-year term for assaulting a woman. His record also includes a conviction for raping an 11-year-old boy and two other arrests for assaults on children.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide