A U.S. judge in Alexandria handed down life sentences yesterday to two men convicted of breaking into Lorton prison and murdering an inmate there May 23.
Edward Ford, 32, of Alexandria and Germain P. Stoddard, 24 of Northwest Washington both received the maximum sentence for the apparently drug-related slaying of convicted heroin dealer Douglas M. Boney.
Ford, identified by prosecution witnesses as the man who chased Boney out of a minimum-security dormitory at the prison and shot him twice with a .38-caliberl revolver, was ordered to spend at least 10 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole. Judge Robert R. Merhige sentenced Ford to 15 years on a second count of conspiracy, but allowed that sentence to run consecutively with the first.
For his role in the daring early-morning raid, Stoddard received a suspended 15-year sentence on the conspiracy count and will become eligible for parole immediately on the murder charge.Merhige ordered that upon leaving prison Stoddard be placed on 5-year probation.
Both men had pleaded innocent to the charges and told Merhige yesterday they plan to appeal the verdict. "I'm innocent, and I'm going to keep on saying I'm innocent," Stoddard told the judge. "I could have proved I'm innocent if I took that [witness] stand."
Stoddard and Ford were convicted largely on the testimony of the government's star witness, John Elbert Landon. The 30-year-old Landon, who was arrested the day of the slaying along with Stoddard, entered a plea bargain arrangement with the government on charges of assault with intent to murder. He testified that he participated in the alleged scheme because he owed Ford $1,000 and Ford had threatened to kill him and his wife unless Landon joined the murder plot.
Landon testified that he, Stoddart, Ford and two other men -- who have been identified only by nicknames and remain at large -- entered the prison to kill both Boney and a second inmate serving a drug-related sentence, John D. Irby. Landon said he saw Ford gun down Boney, then stand over the victim and say, "You're a gangster. Now die like a gangster."
In a 15-minute oration prior to sentencing yesterday, Ford called Landon a "habitual, pathological and chronic liar." Dressed in a two-tone double-breasted brown suit, Ford waved his arms, pounded the lectern with his fist and filled the courtroom with a booming baritone.
"I had no reason to kill that man," Ford said. "How was I going to get my money if I killed him? The government misrepresented the facts at this trial and made me look either stupid or crazy, of which I'm neither.
"I know you got to have your plea bargain," Ford said. "But when you plea bargain, you ought to deal with the truth."