- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

HAGERSTOWN,, Md. | A convicted murderer who spent five days hiding from police after bolting from the Maryland Correctional Institution in January pleaded guilty Tuesday to escaping from the medium-security prison and breaking into a nearby home.

Kandelario Garcia-Ramos, 24, an illiterate Mexican immigrant, apologized through an interpreter to the Boonsboro family whose home he invaded.

“I beg your forgiveness,” he said. “I’m sorry, that’s all.”

Washington County Circuit Judge Daniel P. Dwyer tacked 10 years onto Garcia-Ramos’ 40-year sentence for fatally stabbing his former boss at a Prince George’s County tire shop in 2007.

“By adding the escape and felony theft, you’re likely going to be incarcerated in Maryland until you’re old,” Judge Dwyer said.

Prosecutors dropped other charges of burglary, theft and malicious destruction of property.

Garcia-Ramos acknowledged breaking into the home of vacationing John and Sharon Shank, just three miles from the prison, and stealing jewelry, cash, a jackknife and a digital camera with which he took pictures of himself.

Assistant State’s Attorney John Dunlap said Garcia-Ramos permanently marred the Shanks’ enjoyment of their home.

“A total sense of security has been lost,” he said.

Assistant Public Defender Jerome Joyce requested leniency, arguing that incarceration was unusually severe punishment for a man with virtually no English skills, education, reading or writing ability or U.S. relatives. Most of Garcia-Ramos’ family live in the Mexican state of Tabasco, according to court documents.

“He was like a prisoner in the tower” during the six months before his escape on Jan. 17, Mr. Joyce said.

Judge Dwyer said during sentencing that he hoped Garcia-Ramos would use prison resources to better himself.

Garcia-Ramos is in the United States illegally, prison officials have said.

Investigators think Garcia-Ramos slipped away as his unit moved to or from the prison dining hall and used clothing to shield his skin from razor wire atop the 12- and 18-foot fences he scaled.

He was the first person to escape from a medium-security or higher facility in the state since at least 2003, corrections officials said in January.

He is now housed at the maximum-security North Branch Correctional Institution near Cumberland, Md., Mr. Joyce said.

Garcia-Ramos’ attack on Fernando Monge in his Prince George’s County tire shop in December 2007 was caught on surveillance video. Last June, he entered an Alford plea to first-degree murder. In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to convict.

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