A Virginia court officer has recommended that Richard Lee Earman, scheduled to be sentenced next week for conspiring to murder a young Arlington couple, be sent to prison for 10 years with no chance for parole because of the brutal nature of his crime.
Earman maintains in a court document that he was given assurances by Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney William S. Burroughs that he would be considered for parole after serving only one-fourth of the expected 10 years prison sentence.
Under Virginia law, inmates at state prisons automatically are reviewed for parole after serving one-fourth of their sentences. State parole officials may grant parole then regardless of what judges or presentence reports have recommended.
In his court statement, Earman says the parole agreement was crucial to his decision to plead guilty to the murder conspiracy charge.
"This was the iceing (sic) on the cake, the sole reason I accepted the plea bargain agreement," Earman said in a two-page handwritten statement. His comments were attached to the presentence report submitted to Arlington County Circuit Court Judge Charles S. Russell, who will sentence Earman Wednesday.
Burroughs was out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
William J. Lavelle, the probation officer who prepared Earman's 12-page presentence report, said yesterday that he did not attempt to verify Earman's claim about his agreement with Burroughs because "it was incidental to the presentence report."
Earman was acquitted in a celebrated 1977 jury trial of charges that he murdered Alan Forman, 26, and Donna Shoemaker, 25, for $15,000.
Under terms of a controversial plea-bargain agreement, Earman earlier this year was allowed to vacation in the Bahamas before he was jailed and was promised a voice in choosing the federal prison where he will serve his sentence. In returning, Earman, a former real estate agent, pleaded guilty to a murder conspiracy charge for which he could face 10 years in prison.
Earman said in the court paper that Burroughs told him," 'You will be eligible for parole in two and one half years . . . with [credit for] the four months already served in 1977."
In his statement, Earman Also maintains that he had verbal agreements with Burroughs that go beyond the written plea bargain filed in Circuit Court.
Earman said that these agreements would "clear the books" on unsolved burglaries in nine Virginia counties, some as far away as central Virginia, "without fear of prosecution."
The presentence report said Earman has committed "at least 500 burglaries." He is a convicted member of the "Beltway Bandits," a gang police say is responsible for more than 5,000 burglaries committed in the Washington area during the 1960s.
Earman recently told Fairfax police that since 1977 he has supported himself by committing more than 200 burglaries in the county.
Fairfax police say Earman's admission has enabled them to close "the majority of unsolved burglaries" committed in the county during that time. But police say they don't have enough evidence to prosecute Earman for those burglaries.
In the presentence report, which asks for a maximum sentence with no parole, Lavelle wrote the Earman has a "lengthy history of criminal activity" and that he has said he once was a homosexual prostitute.
"When interviewed, he said that (the murders) had 'eaten' at him," Lavelle wrote. "In light of the fact that (Earman) made four separate attempts to kill (Foreman) . . . his claims for an attack of conscience seem questionable."