State offers plea deal to man accused of shooting at hunter
Agreement would resolve 41-count indictment
Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009
St. Mary's prosecutors said Tuesday that they have offered a plea agreement to a suspect in a shooting case that could lead to a sentence totaling 75 years in prison.
Terry Anthony Clarke was scheduled to go on trial that morning on charges from a 41-count indictment, and an assistant state's attorney said a hearing would be held instead, later in the week, to let Clarke verbally accept or reject the proposal.
A copy of the agreement filed in court lists the maximum penalties that could be imposed for three counts of second-degree assault, a single count of reckless endangerment and eight weapons violations, and states that three counts of first-degree assault and 26 more weapons charges in the indictment would be dismissed.
St. Mary's Assistant State's Attorney Daniel White said that the agreement would put Clarke's penalty in the hands of Circuit Judge Michael J. Stamm.
"The sentence would be up to the court," White said.
Clarke, identified by authorities as an owner of the Tiki Bar in Solomons, was released on bond after a Dec. 29, 2007, incident at a pond outside his house on St. Andrew's Church Road in California.
Cody Philip Burch of Hughesville, Nicholas Ryan Hancock of Charlotte Hall and Kevin Michael Gragan of Bel Alton told police that they had been hunting near the pond on the side near Johnson Pond Lane, and that when they went in the water to retrieve some birds, Clarke began shooting a rifle at them from the other shore, St. Mary's sheriff's deputies alleged in original charging papers.
About 25 rounds were fired, landing 40 yards away from the trio as they quickly left the pond, charging papers state, and no injuries were reported.
Clarke told law officers arriving at his home that he had fired several rounds in the ground to scare the ducks," charging papers state, and the officers seized a Bushmaster rifle from the residence.
The indictment filed last spring by grand jurors alleged that Clarke, now 45, illegally possessed the rifle – along with an Israel Military Industries model UZI B 9mm rifle, a .44-caliber Desert Eagle handgun, an IMBEL .45-caliber handgun, a Kel-tec CNC Industries sub-2000 9mm rifle and four shotguns — after being convicted of a felony narcotics trafficking offense.
The indictment accused Clarke of unlawfully receiving ammunition clips, participating in illegal weapons transactions, and participating in a straw purchase" of four of the weapons, a term commonly referring to a gun sale to a third person on behalf of someone who cannot legally own a firearm.
Clarke pleaded guilty in early 1987 to a charge in an indictment filed the preceding year of the possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute.
Two handgun charges in that case were dismissed. A judge sentenced Clarke to five years in prison on the felony drug charge, suspended to three years with a recommendation that they be served at a prerelease unit.
The judge granted a reconsideration of the sentence seven months later.