La Plata, MD – Caroline Marie Conway, the 53-year-old grandmother from Waldorf who shot and wounded her former daughter-in-law Crystal Mange and killed her new husband, Robert Mange, in the parking lot of the Rock N Roll McDonald’s in Waldorf will spend the rest of her natural life in prison.
Visiting Charles County Circuit Court Judge Steven I. Platt handed down that decision Monday, May 8 in La Plata.
Platt said that in his 17 years on the bench in Prince George’s County he sentenced 11 people to life sentences, seven of those without the possibility of parole.
“As far as I know, life without parole in Maryland means life without parole,” he said.
The judge said he felt the defendant was still a threat to Crystal Mange.
“Even if I sentenced you to life with parole, you’re 53, it’s a 20-year sentence … you would still not see the light of day,” Platt said. “During the defendant’s testimony, I don’t believe she ever said anything she didn’t believe at the time. You had an excellent defense [Attorney James Farmer].”
Conway said during testimony, and Farmer continued to hammer home the point during his arguments, that her grandson was being abused by someone in the Mange household. “You were obsessed in believing your grandson was being abused,” he said, “That the system failed in your mind. But your obsession makes you dangerous.”
Farmer asked for his client to be placed in the Patuxent Institute, chipping at holes in the state’s case, that a roommate in the Mange household, who Crystal Mange had told the social worker was never alone with the children, yet pointed out text messages between the two that indicated he was, in fact, alone with them. He continued through a list on incidents, of interviews between the young child and social workers that seemed to indicate that something was going on.
Jessica Baldwin, mother of the slain victim, told the court, “Two years ago tomorrow will be the last day I ever saw my son alive. The next time I saw him, I was pinning his Navy pin onto his uniform as we prepared to bury him. His daughter is walking now. She says ‘da da,’ but da da isn’t there.”
“Your honor, the jury has spoken,” Charles County States Attorney Tony Covington told the court. “This smoke screen was just that. This was a premeditated murder. Ms. Mange almost lost her life as well.”
Assistant States Attorney Fran Granados added to that argument, saying that Conway has claimed she doesn’t remember the shooting.
“She knew what she was doing,” he said. “Robert sacrificed himself to save his wife and their unborn child. This case is about a lot of things, but there’s a lot things it isn’t about. It’s not about child abuse.”
Coway faced Crystal Mange in the courtroom and apologized.
“I am sorry,” she said. “I did not want anyone to be harmed. I was worried abut my grandchildren.”
She told Platt, “I will accept whatever you decide.”
On Count 1, first-degree murder, he sentenced Conway to life, “for the rest of your natural life, with no possibility of parole.” On Count 2, conspiracy to commit murder, he handed down another life sentence concurrent to the first. For Count 3, use of a firearm in a crime of violence, another 20 years, five without the possibility of parole. Count 4, attempted first-degree murder, Platt handed down another life sentence. Count 6, the use of a firearm associated with the attempted first-degree murder charge netted another 20 years, five without parole, and four five-year consecutive sentences on the remaining charges.
Conway was given credit for 791 days of time served but in this particular case, that really doesn’t mean much.
Originally posted on The BayNet: