Roberta and Vincent Roper, angered that the man convicted of raping and killing their daughter may be eligible for parole in about 12 years, have said they will go to the Maryland General Assembly to seek new mandatory life-sentencing laws.
A Baltimore County jury recommended Thursday that Jack Ronald Jones, 26, be given life imprisonment rather than the death sentence for the rape and murder last April of Stephanie Ann Roper, 22.
"If you've been in a position like this, you realize that the victim has no rights," said Vincent W. Roper, father of the victim. "You feel naked before the world." He complained that tax money is spent "fighting like hell for the accused and you have no rights. I tell you, it's a lousy feeling."
Circuit Court Judge Walter R. Haile imposed concurrent sentences of life for murder and rape and 20 years for kidnaping. With credit for time served since his arrest and time off for good behavior, Jones could be eligible for parole in about 12 years. If Jones had received consecutive sentences, he would not have been eligible for parole for about 25 years.
The Ropers have argued that life sentences should last for life. "We have received a life sentence and we're not eligible for parole after 12 years," Roberta Roper, the victim's mother, said after the sentencing. "Society has failed our daughter and may fail others again."
After the verdict, Prince George's County prosecutor Arthur A. Marshall Jr. said he would consider seeking a new indictment against Jones. Although Roper was killed in Saint Mary's County, authorities said the events that led to her death began in Prince George's. The slaying occurred after Jones and codefendant Jerry Lee Beatty, 17, whose trial begins Tuesday in Annapolis, came upon the victim in her disabled car on a rural Prince George's road.
"We probably wouldn't be taking as good a look at it as we are if the death penalty had been returned," Marshall said.