Byron B. Wood
Leonardtown, MD — A St. Mary’s County judge has refused to reconsider a 10-year sentence for a Mechanicsville man convicted of sex abuse of a minor. Byron Wood, 50, entered an Alford Plea to the charge last year in connection with a case in which he allegedly abused his niece more than 10 years ago when she was eight. An Alford Plea means he did not admit guilt but conceded the state had enough evidence to convict him.
In asking Judge Michael Stamm for a reduced sentence for his client, Rockville attorney Daniel Ginsberg argued that Wood had been a model prisoner since his sentencing on May 15, 2013. Ginsberg said that Wood was making more than $143,000 a year working for a Pax River contractor and that because of his conviction he would not be able to secure similar employment, which was punishment in and of itself. He noted that Morgan would also be a registered sex offender for life.
Ginsberg also argued that the age of the crime (allegedly committed in 2003) should have been considered in the sentencing.
Wood was arrested after St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office detectives initiated an investigation after the girl reported to law enforcement officials in Texas that she had been sexually assaulted by Wood multiple times over a period of several years. Wood was arrested in Anne Arundel County on April 18 of 2012.
The victim said she had been asking herself “Why Me?” for ten years. “I trusted him,” she said, adding “I was helpless. I had no idea what I was doing.” She said he forced his penis down her mouth.
The victim’s mother testified to the impact on her whole family. “It is difficult to find words for the profound impact on her (her daughter),” she said. She said Wood had made sexual advances towards her and had sent her pictures of him.
The mother said that her daughter had “always been a happy child,” but because of the incident has struggled with trust issues. “I hate Byron for what he has done to my child,” she said.
Assistant States Attorney Julie White, over objections from Ginsberg at the reconsideration hearing, said that Wood had taken his niece into a closet and took pictures of her and himself naked. White said that Wood admitted his guilt but could not remember if there was physical contact with the victim. White said that Wood said, “It was possible.”
At his sentencing hearing last year Wood told Judge Stamm, “I didn’t do everything I was accused of.”
During the reconsideration hearing, Wood said being jailed was counterproductive for him and he could contribute more to society by being released earlier. “I look forward to reestablishing relationships with my family,” he said.
Wood’s wife testified how much of a financial burden it had been on the family for her husband to be incarcerated and how traumatic it was for their son not to have his father around.
Judge Stamm said he saw a dilemma in Wood’s and his attorney’s arguments for a reduction in sentence. “Not once have you apologized to the young lady you have victimized,” he said. He added, “There were so many victims,” including his family and employer to the list.
Judge Stamm said that due to the age of the victim and nature of the conduct, he had originally sentenced Wood to a jail term above the state guidelines and he didn’t see any reason to reduce the 10-year sentence. The judge ruled that Wood will have to serve at least 50 percent of the sentence before being considered for parole.