Lawrence Fox, accused by police of keeping weapons, explosives and a methamphetamine lab in his home, showed up at St. Mary's District Court for a hearing Wednesday and was promptly sent home. No one is allowed to wear shorts in the courtroom of Judge John F. Slade III.
When Fox, 23, returned a little later dressed in long pants, he was taken into custody.
On Thursday -- more than two weeks after a warrant was issued for his re-arrest -- Fox appeared at a bail review hearing in black-and-white-striped jail attire, with shackles on his hands and feet. Fox said he was unaware that authorities had been looking for him.
He was ordered held without bail.
St. Mary's County has charged Fox with two counts of carrying a handgun in his car. Fox told the court that he had licenses for the weapons from Maryland and Florida.
Assistant State's Attorney Andrew Rappaport said the licenses are invalid. They were issued in connection with Fox's former job as a process server, which he has not held in more than a year, Rappaport said.
In arguing for his release on bail, Fox told the court that the explosives and weapons were owned legally.
"The items were inert replicas purchased at a gun show," Fox said. "They are not at all prohibited."
He also said he was a student at the University of Maryland in College Park, had strong ties to the community and had demonstrated that he was not a flight risk by showing up at court -- not once, but twice.
"Considering that I've come to court two times, will that be taken into consideration?" Fox asked the judge.
The judge said it would but still ordered him jailed.
Fox was arrested initially July 19 outside of the Belk Department Store in Wildewood after co-workers at the store reported that he had a gun on the store's premises, according to charging papers in District Court. Later that day, authorities raided his house in La Plata and found a cache of weapons and explosives and what they said was a drug lab.
The District Court commissioner before whom Fox appeared soon after that arrest was told only of the two handgun charges, so Fox was released from the detention center that night on his own recognizance. The next day, Fox's bail was revoked, but authorities were not able to find him until Wednesday.
Lt. Daniel Alioto, who heads the St. Mary's Bureau of Criminal Investigations, rejected the idea that Fox had simply shown up at court Wednesday without knowing about the warrant for his arrest.
"The information we received throughout our investigation shows that he was well aware that we were looking for him," Alioto said. "Here's a guy whose vehicle was seized, and he never made any attempt to get it. He rented a car, and that's what he showed up in. I don't know about you, but I couldn't afford to rent a car when I have a 1995 Infiniti sitting in some complex."
During the 10-minute hearing Thursday morning, Rappaport said Fox's car contained rat poison, which the prosecutor said was known to be an ingredient in making methamphetamine.
No charges have been filed against Fox in connection with the contents of his house. Some of the items found are being tested. Because the residence is in Charles County, officials there will have some say in what happens next.
"What I can tell you is that a joint task force involving the DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency] and local police is working on it," said Charles County State's Attorney Leonard C. Collins Jr. "No decision has been made regarding a prosecution and won't be until the investigation is complete."