Rice remains jailed awaiting trial

Darrell Rice talks to reporters outside the federal courthouse in Charlottesville in early 2008. He was re-arrested on March 19 for violating the terms of his federal probation.

A proclivity for marijuana and pornography landed convicted attempted kidnapper Darrell David Rice back in jail on March 19, and at a probation violation hearing on Thursday, March 26, federal judge B. Waugh Crigler decided he should stay there until trial.

"Are you trying to draw a line between marijuana use and violence?" asked Rice's court appointed public defender Fred Heblich after hearing testimony from probation officer Mike Sheffield, who called Rice's violations a "continual pattern" and recalled that Rice had smoked pot while on probation following his 1993 conviction for intent to distribute LSD.

Argued Heblich, pointing out that no scientific correlation between marijuana and violence exists and referring to a famed 1930s "public service" film that depicted pot smokers as deranged lunatics, "The court has to decide [if] it's Reefer Madness or it isn't."

Rice was released from prison in July 2007 after serving 10 years for an attempted kidnapping in the Shenandoah National Park. His name has also been floated as a suspect in various other violent crimes against women, but his defenders say he has been unfairly maligned. Rice's prison term was followed by three years of supervised probation; until early this year, he was monitored by an ankle bracelet and GPS. In addition, he was prohibited from using drugs or viewing pornography.

According to court statements today, in October 2007, Rice violated the pornography prohibition stated as a condition of his probation, and in November 2008 and March of this year he tested positive for marijuana. In addition, he admitted to smoking marijuana in January and February of this year, and to viewing what his probation officers consider pornography again this month on cable television– Heblich suggested it was either HBO or Cinemax. (No details of the actual offending television program was offered, leaving some in the courtroom to wonder if a popular show like Sex and the City would classify as pornography.) Rice was arrested on Thursday, March 19.

Rice's mother, Lenna Mays, took the stand to testify that her son has been working hard at his job as assistant manager for Environmental Products Systems in Frederick, Maryland– close to the home she shares with her son in Stevensville, a small Maryland town on Kent Island.

Although the uproar on Kent Island was "terrible" immediately after Rice was released and settled there, Mays testified, her son, who was once named "Employee of the Month" at his current job, had been "doing so well, I've been bragging."

What she admits she didn't realize: that he was still sneaking marijuana.

"I was very surprised," she testified, when she heard he'd had not one but numerous violations, and she says she had never seen any sign of drug or pornography use.

Rice, 41, and appearing thinner than at previous court appearances, spoke softly when questioned by the judge.

"I enjoy it," he said of his job, citing friendships with his coworkers. He described befriending a neighbor– a woman with children– who'd initially been concerned about his proximity and criminal past.

"Once she met me," Rice testified, "she felt better."

Although Rice admitted he'd smoked pot outside his substance abuse treatment center immediately after an appointment, he said his probation officer had been supportive of his rehabilitation.

"I believe I disappointed him," he testified.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Huber recommended Rice's continued detention, citing Sheffield's testimony, and the fact that marijuana is an "illegal substance" that Rice had continued to use. Heblich, while acknowledging that Rice likely faces additional jail time– up to 24 months– argued that Rice should be released while he awaits trial so that he can terminate his employment responsibly.

"Nobody's argued he's a flight risk," said Heblich, who cited another reason bond can be denied: that he would be a threat to the community.

"Is he a danger if he continues to watch HBO or smoke marijuana?" Heblich asked.

Judge Crigler declined to weigh in on the marijuana/violence connection, but instead imparted a "clinical analysis": No matter in what way, Rice, he explained, had violated the terms of his probation not once, but at least three times.

"I'm detaining him," he ruled, before praising Rice for a post-prison adjustment that "overall has been good."

Addressing Rice's concerns that he wouldn't be able to give his employer two-weeks notice and therefore might not be able to be rehired once he's re-released, Crigler was sympathetic.

"If I need to make a call to his employer, I will," he said, to explain that Rice's absence from work is "not because he's just not showing up."

Rice, who is being held at the Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange, will face trial on the probation violation on April 7 at 10:30am.

–Story last updated March 30 at 2:50pm


Linda, your comments are beyond disturbing. "A fine gentleman" does not commit the acts that Darrell David Rice was convicted of. "A fine gentleman" is also not typically required to register as a sex offender. Sexual predators do, however, often come across as extremely charming and likeable because they are often highly skilled master manipulators. Case after case has shown us that sexual predators cannot be rehabilitated and they should not be allowed to roam freely in society. Perhaps you should also speak at length with Darrell Rice's known victim, Yvonne Malbasha, and see if you still find him to be "a fine gentleman" because, thankfully, she was able to escape him and is able to talk about his vicious attack on her. Or perhaps you should spend some time talking to some of his former co-workers like Jill Romanoski or Melody Sies who have described, in detail, his threatening and abusive behavior and who would certainly never describe him as "a fine gentleman."

I met Darrell at ESP in October 2008, when I started working there. We have spoken at length on many occasions, and I find him to be a fine gentleman. and, he was the most helpful manager there, always available when you needed him, and offering good advice on better work performance.
I miss him at work and wish him well.
From what I have read about his case, he has not been given a fair chance at all. Meanwhile, there are thousands of "real criminals" out there getting away with murder, theft and many other crimes that hurt others.
Confining him in prison for testing positive for pot is absurd. The judicial system in this country is a joke. Law makers and lawyers are taking this country for a ride and benefiting greatly from it...and who gets boarhogged for it? People like Darrell Rice.

As "fair chance" goes, Linda, your co-worker was given an excellent opportunity to stay at work and continue being a model citizen. While you were speaking "at length on many occasions," did you know about his uncontrollable addiction to porn as well as pot? Perhaps you could have offered him some of his own advice on "better work performance," that is, don't test positive for drug use and don't violate the court's order to stay away from exploitive images of women.

Not sure how he has been "boarhogged" by the system - he has had every chance to enjoy his freedom. His own parole officer recommended that he be sent back in because of a steady pattern of disdain for what society expects of him if he is to live on the outside: stop using drugs and stop abusing women, or watching others do the same. How would you feel if it turns out that this man you have known for six months turns out to be very different when he loses his temper and becomes one who has gotten away with "many other crimes that hurt others"? I hope you're right about him, but remember that even Ted Bundy was charming to those who could help him get what he wanted.

This is upsetting, but at least it's something. It will be interesting to hear the details of how his lawyers explained his actions, to keep him from getting the 2-10 additional years he should have had.

Although pot and porn are not normally associated with violent behavior, in someone with the mental illness and well documented hatred for women, it very well could bring out the beast in him. Kent Island can have a peaceful summer, Christmas is going to be another story.

Sure the guy screwed up and probably disappointed a lot of people- but does everyone who gets busted smoking pot and watching porn end up back in jail? What gives? The pot I get- but business is it of anyone's if he checks out some porn on HBO?

For some reason, many of the blogs, including this one have time limits before they will be closed. There are numerous articles with blogs on Darrell David Rice, I would hope that people would continue to post on the blogs that do not have a time limit. Here is one that will continue, hopefully more of the local Kent Island people follow it.
NEWS- Unwanted neighbor: Island reels from Rice's arrival
Published September 20, 2007 in issue 0638 of the Hook
As far as the violations since release, there is a very good possibility there were other violations that are not known. How many women could have been run off the road or verbally assalted by DDR and never reported it? Most likely his victims, former co-workers and the woman on her bicycle in Annapolis are not the only ones that have had encounters with DDR.

He should think about moving to California, aren't they going to legalize pot to pay down their debt, and healthcare cost. If Virginia legalized it, it should only be grown in Schylur, because everyone knows they grow the best stuff around whether you smoke it or not.

You both miss the point being made by the parole officer - it's a pattern this offender has shown every time he has been given the chance to control himself. If he can't stop himself from violating the court's instructions about pot & porn, how can he be trusted not to lose control of his temper again?

The point is not whether the porn-watching or pot-smoking hurts anyone, but that he has been instructed to avoid them, in the interest of rehabilitation, and he either can't or won't do what he knows he must do if he wants to keep his freedom. No matter how much he likes his job, no matter how much his mother believes in him, he is not able to follow the court's instructions, and that's why he has to go back to prison. It amounts to contempt of court, perhaps, which is a serious crime, just as parole violations cannot go unpunished because they are red flags that something remains very wrong with this man.

This is very hot information. I think I'll share it on Twitter.

I wonder how many cops, attorneys and probation officers statewide have smoked marijuana and viewed porn in the last year? Anybody who would answer with "none" is way out of touch with reality.

Who cares how many cops, attorneys, etc., have smoked pot? The fact remains that this man was instructed by the courts to NOT engage in these behaviors and he thumbs his nose at the Court and does as he pleases. Hardly an indication of his willingness to reform past behaviors. Good deal. Let him remain in jail.

Well said, Bob.