It took Kyle A. Duppins two tries to find a judge to accept his plea to attempted murder.
Duppins, 27, of Damascus appeared in Montgomery County Circuit Court Tuesday before Judge Robert A. Greenberg to plead guilty to charges he stabbed a man 21 times last year at a Rockville hotel.
But in an uncommon move, Greenberg refused the plea deal, saying the attack was too violent for the sentencing limits.
“This was a violent attack,” Greenberg told the defense and prosecution after hearing his plea deal. “I’m not comfortable to take a plea with a binding cap of 10 years.”
Duppins had been charged with attempted first-degree murder, among other charges. Under the deal, he pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder.
It is unusual for judges to reject a plea, a spokesman for the prosecutor, Ramon Korionoff, wrote in an email. And when they do, the case remains open and may be heard by another judge.
This one landed next in the courtroom of Judge John W. Debelius III, who agreed to the deal in Duppins’ second hearing of the day.
According to his statement of charges, Duppins and his girlfriend were staying at the Red Roof Inn in Rockville on Shady Grove Road on March 4, 2012. He was arrested outside of the hotel early that morning after robbing and stabbing Jose Bazan, 22, who had been staying in a nearby room with his 20-year-old girlfriend, Emily Rohmann, as well as another couple.
Duppins attacked Bazan while he and Rohmann were getting into a car to get some food, Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Wennar said in court.
Duppins put a hunting knife to Bazan’s neck and told him, “All I want is your money. Give it to me now and no one gets hurt,” according to court documents.
Duppins took Rohmann’s purse, several phones and an iPod; he then demanded more money from the pair and took them back to their room, escorting Bazan with the knife at his neck, Wennar said.
As they entered the room, a fight broke out, according to the documents.
“He came after me. Jose wasn’t going to have it,” Rohmann said after the first hearing.
“The next thing I know ... he’s [Bazan] bleeding everywhere,” she said.
One friend hid in the bathroom and called police, another friend ran to the front desk to get help, according to Duppins’ charging documents.
Duppins began stabbing Bazan in his head, back and upper body, perforating a lung, and damaging his appendix so badly it had to be removed, said Wennar, who made the plea deal with Duppins and his lawyer, Ronald Gottlieb.
Bazan told the court he was stabbed 21 times, which left him with scars on his back, his stomach and dotting up his left side. Bazan appeared in court with Rohmann, their 3-week old baby and Bazan’s father.
Rohmann also kicked Duppins several times, and she and Bazan finally were able to force him out of the room, she said.
Rohmann made Bazan take his shirt off, she said, and wrapped him in towels to try to keep him warm and stop the bleeding.
The blood, she said, “was just pouring.”
“He knew what he was doing,” Bazan said in court, adding that a doctor told him after the attack that he would probably die.
Police arrested Duppins outside of the Red Roof Inn, finding a bloody knife in his back pocket, which he said he had named “Jack,” and that it had a twin, “Jill,” according to his charging documents.
He was taken to a police station, but then taken to a nearby hospital after telling police officers his chest hurt and that he had swallowed crack cocaine, according to his charging documents. He also told police he had been drinking gin and beer before going to the hotel.
Bazan’s father, who is also named Jose Bazan, said his son’s injuries were so bad that it looked like “his stomach was parted in two.”
“I would like, for me, that he never leaves [prison],” he said, in Spanish, outside of the courtroom.
In the hearing Duppins said, “I would like to apologize for what I did to him and to his family.”
Debelius sentenced Duppins to 20 years in prison, 10 years of which were suspended. Duppins also received three years of supervised probation and agreed to mental health, and drug and alcohol treatment as mandated after his release.
“I feel bad for the family,” said Veronica Hayes, Duppins’ mother, who was in the audience.
“He knows he has to suffer the consequences,” she said.
“I’m glad it wasn’t worse,” she said.