- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The mother of a Leonardtown man convicted and sentenced to prison last week for second-degree rape has written a letter alleging that the judge hearing the case reflected his feelings about her son by uttering a racial slur as he talked in a St. Mary’s courtroom about another case from long ago.
The letter by the mother of Michael C. Thomas Jr. suggests that visiting retired Prince George’s Circuit Judge Vincent Femia was expressing his own feelings about action he would take if one of his children were harmed. Femia and a court official said Thursday that the judge was quoting the unrepentant foreman of a jury in the 1970s that acquitted a motorcycle gang member charged with murdering an African-American. Femia prosecuted that murder trial decades ago, and said he was talking in court to a St. Mary’s prosecutor who had been a clerk for the judge presiding at the murder trial.
Last week, Femia sentenced Thomas, 24, to serve 13 years in prison after convicting him of second-degree rape from incidents involving a girl who was 13 years old. Thomas also received a pair of concurrent one-year sentences on convictions of committing third-degree sexual offenses with two other girls.
Jennifer Thomas of Bushwood wrote that before Femia sentenced her son, the judge said in his comments about a case from decades earlier “that he would have killed that [n-----], and that is exactly what he has done to my son[’s] future.”
The letter accompanying a packet of information defending Michael Thomas’ character, and certificates of achievements in school, also includes letters from two of his sisters, suggesting that Femia’s comment was about action he would take to kill someone.
Tytiana Thomas said Thursday she felt the comment was directed toward how her brother’s case would be handled, and that, unlike some people in the courtroom, she did not find it humorous. “I didn’t find anything at all funny about it,” she said.
Femia said Thursday he was outraged then and now by the response he got from the murder trial’s foreman in the 1970s when he inquired about the suspect’s acquittal, and that he later told his boss, Prince George’s state’s attorney Arthur “Bud” Marshall, “You don’t want to be colored in our community. It’s open season if you are.”
Femia said that when he discussed the matter last week in court, he saw no reason not to quote exactly what the foreman had said. “That’s the truth,” the judge said. “That’s what he said.”
The judge said his comments about the murder case had nothing to do with the rape trial, and that the prosecutor he was talking to was there for a hearing on a different assault case.
“That’s a complete disconnect. One had nothing to do with the other,” Femia said, noting that the defendant and victims in the rape trial are all black. “There’s no racial implication,” he said.