Man con­victed of child sex abuse re­sen­tenced

Ap­pel­late court rul­ing re­mands 2011 case

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­

Due to an ap­pel­late court rul­ing which re­manded his case back to Charles County Cir­cuit Court, a man con­victed in 2011 for sex­u­ally abus­ing a girl through­out her child­hood in the 1970s was given another sen­tenc­ing hear­ing, and es­sen­tially a chance to dras­ti­cally re­duce his 40-year ac­tive sen­tence.

Decades af­ter Don­ald Richard Twigg, 77, for­merly of Bryans Road, raped and mo­lested the girl, a jury con­victed him af­ter hear­ing tes­ti­mony and a recorded phone call of Twigg con­fess­ing to the abuse.

In 2010, the vic­tim re­ported the abuse to de­tec­tives of the Charles

County Sher­iff’s Of­fice. The abuse be­gan some­time in 1971 when he be­gan fondling the then 7 or 8-year-old girl and touch­ing her in­ap­pro­pri­ately, court records in­di­cate. This con­tin­ued through­out the years and even­tu­ally es­ca­lated to sex. Around the age of 14 or 15, she was able to avoid con­fronta­tions by work­ing and ly­ing about her men­strual cy­cle un­til even­tu­ally he seemed to lose in­ter­est and the abuse stopped, she told de­tec­tives.

In 2011, for­mer Charles County Cir­cuit Court Judge Robert Nal­ley sen­tenced him to a to­tal of 40 years on counts of child sex­ual abuse, sec­ond-de­gree rape, third-de­gree sex of­fense and incest, but last year, the court of spe­cial ap­peals ruled that the sec­ond-de­gree rape charge, which car­ries the high­est max­i­mum penalty, should have merged into child sex­ual abuse as the pred­i­cate re­quired to es­tab­lish the ba­sis of the charge un­der the pre1990 statute.

Gen­er­ally in crim­i­nal cases, the law as it stood dur­ing the in­ci­dent date must be ap­plied. There­fore, the ap­pel­late court de­ter­mined the merger was needed to elim­i­nate re­dun­dan­cies in sen­tenc­ing.

With the sec­ond-de­gree rape charge va­cated, Twigg ap­peared be­fore Judge Amy Bra­gu­nier on Thurs­day to be re­sen­tenced at her dis­cre­tion.

Pub­lic de­fender Michael Beach asked Bra­gu­nier to con­sider his oth­er­wise clean crim­i­nal record, as well as his old age and poor med­i­cal con­di­tion. He told the court that Twigg’s spleen had since rup­tured while in pri­son and that the med­i­cal pro­ce­dure re­vealed that he had also de­vel­oped leukemia. Beach re­quested that Bra­gu­nier merge all other counts and hand down a flat nine year sen­tence for the child sex­ual abuse.

As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney Tif­fany Camp­bell read an im­pact state­ment writ­ten by the vic­tim, who sat with her fam­ily dur­ing pro­ceed­ings. In the state­ment, she said he de­serves the max­i­mum penalty al­lowed by law as “he has left me with a life­time of pain and suf­fer­ing” and “… the only thing he is sorry for is him­self.” His age and health should not be con­sid­ered, she said, be­cause he did not con­sider that when he abused her.

Camp­bell also played an ex­cerpt from a recorded phone call used in the trial.

Dur­ing the call, the vic­tim asked, “What if you got me preg­nant?”

“That’s why we also used those things,” he replied.

“What things, con­doms? “Yeah.” “I don’t re­mem­ber al­ways us­ing those.” “Well, I do.” Af­ter hear­ing ar­gu­ments from both sides, Bra­gu­nier went back to her cham­bers for a brief re­cess to re­view other doc­u­men­ta­tion and re­turned with her sen­tence: 35 years of ac­tive in­car­cer­a­tion, while grant­ing just short of five years in time ser ved credit.

Af­ter the hear­ing, Beach told the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent that they will con­tinue to pur­sue av­enues of ap­pel­late re­lief.

“I was very pleased with the re­sults to­day,” said the vic­tim’s hus­band out­side the court­house. “It was nice to see jus­tice served af­ter five years hav­ing to deal with this the way we have, to see the emo­tional toll it’s taken on the fam­ily.”

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