Nearly a month after prosecutors dropped charges against a self-described Satan worshiper, a Montgomery County grand jury yesterday again indicted the man on charges of ransacking an Orthodox Jewish school in December 1989.
Jeffrey L. Eskew, accused of one of the most destructive "hate crimes" in the county in recent memory, is charged with religious vandalism, malicious destruction, and breaking and entering.
If convicted of all the charges, Eskew could be sentenced to 23 years in prison.
The grand jury re-indicted Eskew on the charges that were dropped by prosecutors Dec. 18 immediately after Circuit Judge Paul A. McGuckian threw out a statement Eskew had made to police.
McGuckian, relying on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, said Eskew's statements to Montgomery County detectives were inadmissible because he did not have a lawyer present when he was interviewed by them in a Los Angeles jail.
Eskew, 22, is accused of causing about $20,000 in damage to Yeshiva of Greater Washington. Police said he illegally entered the Silver Spring school on Dec. 26, 1989, and smashed windows, splattered chemicals, destroyed bookshelves and scrawled "Satan" across a blackboard. School officials said every room in the building was damaged.
"It was very demoralizing when the charges were dropped a few weeks ago," said Rabbi Zev Katz, the assistant principal. "We are very pleased with the State's Attorney Office and the police for their dogged pursuit. We want to see him brought to justice."
Assistant State's Attorney Teresa Whalen said prosecutors sought a new indictment against Eskew after authorities "came up with new evidence and new witnesses."
Whalen declined to specify the new information, but a detective said it involved "statements from corroborating witnesses."
Eskew, who is scheduled to be sentenced next week for two unrelated robberies in Montgomery County, was arrested shortly after the Yeshiva break-in in his native Los Angeles. He had been detained there on an unrelated robbery charge.
When asked in an interview last January about the school vandalism, Eskew said, "I felt like I had to prove to Satan and to myself that I'm better and more powerful than any person who's into God or some other religion." Eskew said he worships the devil and considers himself "a skinhead."
Last February, citing a lack of evidence, prosecutors dropped charges against two other men arrested in the Yeshiva vandalism case.