A nurse convicted of trying to fatally poison her former husband because of a prolonged custody dispute was sentenced yesterday by a judge in Anne Arundel County to 15 years in prison.
Ann Hoard, 44, was accused of luring her ex-husband to her home in Laurel and injecting him with a surgical muscle relaxant that, in strong doses, can paralyze the diaphragm and stop breathing. The drug is one of three the state of Maryland uses in sequence to execute condemned inmates.
Hoard and her husband separated in 2001 and divorced the next year. By the time of the attack, in March last year, Donald Hoard had won primary custody of their young son, and she had limited visitation rights.
"I want my son back," Ann Hoard was accused of saying moments after plunging the needle into her former husband's buttocks. "Give me back my son."
The drug, succinylcholine chloride, quickly dissolves in the body and cannot be detected, prosecutor Anne Colt Leitess said. Assuming the syringe was full, she said, the dose would have been lethal if it had been injected in a vein, which it was not.
In June, Judge Paul F. Harris Jr. found Hoard guilty of attempted first-degree murder and other offenses. Yesterday, he sentenced her to 25 years in prison, suspended after 15 years, and five years of probation. The judge said Hoard had "shown absolutely, unequivocally no remorse for her actions."
Hoard sounded a defiant note before the sentence was imposed, alleging -- as her attorney, Warren A. Brown, had during the trial -- that she was the victim of an assault by her ex-husband. She said that, on the night in question, he sexually assaulted her "and I believe tried to kill me."
Hoard said she believes her case was mishandled "because I am a black woman who was beaten and sexually assaulted by a white man in Anne Arundel County."
The judge called the claim that Donald Hoard was the assailant "absolutely unbelievable" and "nothing more than a smoke screen to cover up or divert attention from" the actual crime.
Leitess said that Donald Hoard arrived at his ex-wife's home in the Russett section of Laurel to pick up the couple's son. She injected him as soon as he walked in the door, Leitess said.
Woozy and short of breath, Donald Hoard stumbled from the house with the syringe in hand, called 911 and reported that his wife had stabbed him with a syringe and was "nuts," Leitess said.
About the same time, Ann Hoard called 911, telling police in a frantic voice that her husband was beating her. She called again a short time later to say that he had stabbed her with a needle but that she was only grazed.
Police summoned to the home said they found little visible evidence of the beating Ann Hoard said she had endured. She was charged with assault, though the charges would be increased after the syringe was tested.
Several days after the incident, Ann Hoard told police for the first time that her former husband had sexually assaulted her. Her belated accounts of the alleged assault were inconsistent, Leitess said.
Donald Hoard said in court yesterday he was fearful that his former wife might try to harm him or their child. "She obviously tried to kill me and it didn't work, so the only other way she could try to hurt me is to hurt my son," he said.
Brown, the defense attorney, called Donald Hoard "selfish" and "shortsighted" for wanting to remove his former wife from the child's life. Brown urged the judge to be lenient, arguing that the couple's son should not be deprived of his mother.
Said Leitess: "You can't try to kill your child's father and then complain that putting you in jail will harm the child."