Ray Young, 68, shuffled into a Montgomery County courtroom with a cane. He apologized to God, Jesus, the victim, his wife, his brother, other family members, the judge.
In July, Young stabbed a man who he thought had cut in line at the post office.
“There’s no excuse for it,” said the retired economist, who has no previous criminal record. “There’s no rationale. There’s no justification.”
Moments later, Circuit Court Judge Terrence McGann sentenced Young to nine years in prison, describing the apologies as inconsistent with claims two months ago during trial that Young had acted in self-defense during the altercation in Silver Spring.
“Mr. Young, you terrorized the post office patrons in broad daylight,” McGann said.
The victim — a 59-year-old civil engineer who had gone to the post office to mail two envelopes — survived two puncture wounds to the chest and one to the back, prosecutors said.
Young was sentenced for one count of first-degree assault and one count of attempted manslaughter. The former Labor Department employee is a throat cancer survivor with an artificial hip and will have to serve at least half of his sentence before being eligible for parole. “Based on what you said today,” McGann told Young at the end of the hearing Monday, “I think you’re man enough to serve it.”
Described as “bizarre” and “an enigma” during the hearing, the case was indeed strange from the beginning.
At 2:18 p.m. July 26, police were called to a reported stabbing at the post office along New Hampshire Avenue in the Colesville section of Silver Spring. They found the victim in a bloodstained shirt and quickly tracked down Young in his tan Toyota Corolla. An officer asked Young about blood on his arm.
“I was fighting with a guy. He cut the line, and I said something to him. We started tussling,” Young told the officer, according to police arrest records. Young said he had tried to defend himself. “Maybe I should have just stayed home. I’m too old for this stuff,” Young added, according to the records.
Police charged him with attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and two counts of carrying a concealed dangerous weapon. He was tried in March.
Prosecutors called the victim to the witness stand. He testified that he had gone to the post office, spoken to an employee at the counter, mailed two Priority Mail envelopes and headed back to his car. Then he decided he wanted to use overnight mail and returned to the counter. The victim said the clerk retrieved his envelopes and allowed him to change shipping options.
Then the victim, who is 5-foot-9, tried to walk out again. This time, he ran into a man five inches taller in the vestibule area. “You think you’re smart, you cut in line,” the man told him, pulling a four-inch butterfly-style knife from his pocket and attacking him, according to the victim’s testimony and prosecutors.
The victim said he and the man started fighting over the knife, with the victim eventually wresting control of it. A postal employee approached Young and pepper-sprayed him. In court on Monday, McGann commended the worker for responding.
During the trial, Young testified that he was acting in self-defense, even climbing out of the witness stand to demonstrate his actions. Jurors reached a verdict that was short of the original charge of attempted second-degree murder, but they convicted him of attempted manslaughter and first-degree assault.
McGann told Young on Monday that he didn’t believe the self-defense claim. If Young had been trying to protect himself, McGann, said, “You wouldn’t be jabbing, you wouldn’t be stabbing into a chest area of an unarmed man.”
Young’s attorney, Gary Courtois, asked McGann for leniency, saying Young had never before been in trouble, had recorded a distinguished career, is active in his church and is a family man. Young also has health issues — he has had two back operations and needs a feeding tube because of past cancer treatments, Courtois said.
But Assistant State’s Attorney John Lalos urged McGann to concentrate on the stabbing. “Mr. Young lost it,” Lalos said. “We can’t have that.”
Before he was sentenced, Young told family members, some of whom were in court, that he was sorry. “I want to apologize to my family for embarrassing them and bringing shame to the family,” Young said.
“I’d like to apologize to God and His Son, Jesus Christ, who is my Lord and my Savior,” Young also said. He added later: “I claim to be a Christian, but I certainly did not behave like a Christian behaves.”