- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 19, 2008

CHARLOTTESVILLE (AP) — A federal judge yesterday extended the electronic monitoring of a man convicted of an attempted kidnapping in Shenandoah National Park.

U.S. District Judge Norman Moon did not immediately specify how long the monitoring should continue for Darrell Rice, although the government had recommended an additional year. Judge Moon also banned Rice from viewing pornography.

Rice, 40, has been reporting to federal probation agents and wearing an ankle bracelet equipped with Global Positioning System technology since he was released from prison in July and moved in with his mother on Kent Island, Md. He was scheduled to have the device removed tomorrow.

“The GPS is all right. I’m just afraid when it’s off, people will start freaking out again,” Rice said after the hearing. “It makes people feel better, I guess, but it’s a pain.”

Rice’s move to Kent Island created an uproar within the community. Panicked residents flooded officials with calls about their new neighbor, who gained infamy after he was accused but not convicted of other violent crimes.

He had been charged with the slayings of two female hikers in Shenandoah National Park what prosecutors called an anti-lesbian rage. But the charges were dropped after DNA evidence cast doubt on his involvement. Prosecutors also tried to link him to a series of abductions along Route 29 in Northern Virginia in 1996 and 1997. They later backed off claims he was the “Route 29 Stalker.”

In court yesterday, Rice’s attorney, James Connell III, painted a picture of a passive man who has followed all the rules since his release, was recently named “employee of the month” at his new job and just wants to move on with his life. Continuing to confine Rice to his home, save for occasional trips to run errands, attend work and therapy, would prevent him from being able to lead a normal life, Mr. Connell argued.

His therapist, Constance Pullen, agreed, telling the court the monitoring could further isolate him from society, hampering his rehabilitation.

“I don’t know how he’s ever going to be successful integrating into the community unless he feels comfortable in the community,” she said.

Rice’s probation officer, Chris Keating, testified that after he recommended the monitoring be continued, he reviewed the results of one of Rice’s psychological evaluations. Nothing in the report changed his opinion that Rice’s GPS device should remain in place, Mr. Keating told Assistant U.S. Attorney Jean Hudson.

Miss Hudson argued the monitoring system can also help Rice prove to worried community members that he is not doing anything wrong.

Queen Anne’s County Sheriff R. Gery Hofmann said he was pleased with the judge’s decision.

“I think it’s in the best interest of the community, and I think it’s in the best interest of Mr. Rice’s,” he said outside court. “We’ve had a lot of media fury on the issue — and rightfully so.”

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