HAGERSTOWN —A Hagerstown-area man charged with threatening a former Washington County District Court judge entered an Alford plea Tuesday in Circuit Court and received a suspended state prison sentence, according to court records.
Charles Edward Miller, 52, of 10639 Crystal Falls Drive, Hagerstown, also pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a regulated firearm, a charge stemming from the same incident, court records said.
In both cases, visiting Circuit Court Judge John H. Tisdale sentenced Miller to concurrent sentences of three years with all the time suspended except for the 283 days he has spent in the detention center since his arrest, court records said.
Tisdale also ordered Miller to spend two years on supervised probation, court records said.
An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment by a defendant that the state has enough evidence to get a conviction.
On June 2, 2012, a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to Miller’s house for a vandalism report, the charging document said. However, the deputy first contacted Miller by telephone, the document said.
Miller wanted the deputy to investigate how one of two 5-pound weights on his back porch ended up on the ground, the charging document said. The deputy explained that there was no crime “if the weight simply fell to the ground,” the document said.
During the course of the conversation, Miller became agitated and told the deputy he wanted him to notify Col. Randy Wilkinson of the Sheriff’s Office, State’s Attorney Charles Strong and “shoot Judge Wright,” the charging document stated. The deputy wrote in the document that “Judge Wright” implied District Judge Dana Moylan Wright, who has since been elevated to the Circuit Court bench.
When deputies arrived at Miller’s home, he was sitting on the front porch with a loaded single-shot .22-caliber pistol on a small table next to him, the charging document in that case said.
Miller offered an explanation in court, Assistant State’s Attorney Christopher McCormack said after the plea hearing. Miller told the judge he was listing off names of officials he knew and, after using an expletive, added the word “shoot” before uttering Wright’s name, McCormack said.
Miller had a number of convictions in the past that would prohibit him from possessing a pistol, the charging document said, including a 1988 conviction for assault with intent to commit robbery.
McCormack listed six convictions in the past dozen years, including a second-degree assault, another offense for which Miller would have been prohibited from having a gun.