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Md. Man Gets Life for Murder Behind School

Montgomery Prosecutors Cite History of Robberies and Vicious Attacks

By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 15, 2005; Page B02

Joseph N. Bellamy, a Gaithersburg man responsible for a string of assaults and robberies, was sentenced yesterday to life in prison for the 2003 murder of a 21-year-old man behind Brown Station Elementary School.

"This community is entitled to know it is safe from Mr. Bellamy for a long time," Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Louise G. Scrivener said after more than two hours of testimony.

Bellamy, 21, was convicted in October of first-degree murder and using a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence against Jermaine Carter. Scrivener sentenced him to 20 years on the gun charge.

Carter's body was found behind the Gaithersburg school with two gunshot wounds -- one in his head and one in his shoulder -- and shoeprints on his shirt later found to match Bellamy's sneakers. In prison, prosecutors said, Bellamy told a cellmate that he had been angry at Carter for having a relationship with his wife. "It was a cold, calculated, heartless killing," said Peter A. Feeney, an assistant state's attorney.

Bellamy, a father of two young boys, had a long history of crimes and landed in juvenile homes several times. In recommending that he be sentenced to life in prison without parole, prosecutors listed violent acts and drug offenses dating to 1995. They included trying to force a 12-year-old boy to perform oral sex on him, attempting to stab a staff member at a home for troubled youth with a pair of scissors, and beating a man with brass knuckles, permanently damaging his left eye.

The night he killed Carter, prosecutors said, he poured bleach into the eyes of a teenage girl and a 7-month-old baby she was holding. The girl had thrown a water balloon at a group of men, splashing Bellamy.

Before yesterday's sentencing, Bellamy already had been sentenced to 23 years in prison for several of those crimes.

"I did a lot of wrong stuff, you know what I'm saying," he said in court yesterday, nervously waving his hands. "I want to try to better myself."

His attorneys asked the judge to consider his family history. His father was sentenced to life in 1996 for first-degree murder.

"Sometimes people are born without much of a chance," said Ron Gottlieb, one of Bellamy's attorneys.

Carter's parents, who attended yesterday's sentencing, said Bellamy never should be allowed back into society. "This makes the community safer," Renee Carter said.

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