Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Monrovia father pleads guilty to reckless endangerment

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A Monrovia man plead guilty this week to various charges related to a December incident during which his 5-year-old son shot himself in the leg.

Richard Lee Donato Jr., 33, waived his right to a trial Monday and entered an Alford Plea to reckless endangerment, violation of a protective order, false imprisonment and drunken driving charges in Frederick County Circuit Court.

The Alford Plea is a special type of plea, in which the defendant does not admit guilt but does acknowledge that that there would have been enough evidence to convict him had the case gone to trial.

Donato was charged with reckless endangerment because he had two loaded guns in his home that could have easily been found by his three young children. One of those children, a 5-year-old boy, found a 9 mm handgun in a couch cushion on Dec. 26 and accidentally discharged the gun, striking himself in the leg.

The boy was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and released.

According to court records, on Sept. 11, Donato allegedly came to his wife’s house in Monrovia, threatened her with a machete and backed her into a corner in the living room. Donato was charged with assault, false imprisonment and violation of a protective order after this incident. He was set for a criminal jury trial for these charges on Monday, but instead plead to several of these charges and the child endangerment charges.

According to court documents, Donato’s plea to the combined charges carries a maximum sentence of 6 1⁄2 years in prison. Sentencing is pending.