There was good news and bad news yesterday for Michael J. Wilson-Bey at the Montgomery County courthouse.
First came the bad news: In an eighth-floor courtroom, Wilson-Bey, who had been shot while fleeing a Bethesda bank robbery in January, pleaded guilty to assault and robbery charges that could keep him in prison for 30 years.
Then came the good news: Circuit Judge Leonard Ruben gave Wilson-Bey permission to go to the ground floor to be married.
Three sheriff's deputies watched as Wilson-Bey, temporarily taken out of handcuffs, went through a brief civil ceremony conducted by Deputy Clerk Ruby Howell. After signing the marriage register and kissing his bride, he was returned to the Montgomery County jail, where he is being held without bond until sentencing on Oct. 28.
"I married him because I love him," said Paulette Earl, who said that while they have lived together 15 years, "He needs me mainly now." The ceremony lasted 20 minutes, she said, and a friend came to be a witness. "We had a chance to kiss before he left, then they took him off."
Earl, 30, who plans to keep her maiden name, said she hopes to visit her husband in prison, but visits to the detention center on Seven Locks Road near Rockville are difficult because she lives in the District and does not have a car. The couple has three children, ages three to 13.
Upstairs, Wilson-Bey, of 1133 11th St. NW, had pleaded guilty before Judge John Mitchell to four robbery charges, six assault charges, one charge of theft and one of assault with intent to prevent lawful apprehension. He could face up to 100 years in prison, but prosecutor Roger W. Galvin said that under a plea arrangement he will ask that all but 30 years be suspended.
Wilson-Bey, 31, was arrested Jan. 11 in a wild scene that developed after an armed robbery--the third in three weeks--at the Bank of Bethesda branch on Westbard Avenue.
Two police officers who had staked out the bank because of the earlier robberies chased a masked gunman on foot through the bank's drive-in passageway, and when the gunman jumped in a car and tried to drive away, one of the officers fired and struck the driver. The car careered out of control, toppled a small tree and came to rest with its roof smashed against the side of a bowling alley.
Hoping to avoid a gun battle, police surrounded the car but did not approach it. Finally, with help from the fire department, the driver, later identified as Wilson-Bey, was pulled from the car. Wilson-Bey was treated for gunshot wounds on his face and left forearm at Suburban Hospital before being taken to jail.