Year added to Bethesda bombmaking suspect's sentence
UPDATE: Montgomery County Circuit Judge Michael D. Mason on Wednesday afternoon tacked on another year to Collin McKenzie-Gude’s five-year sentence for crimes committed in 2008.
Mason technically sentenced McKenzie-Gude to three years behind bars for an attempted carjacking conviction, but gave him credit for the nearly two years he has been locked up since his arrest.
Mason also took time to praise McKenzie-Gude’s parents, who were in court and were the subject of sometimes rude phone calls from their son from the county jail.
“His father, parents, from what I’ve read, obviously love him, care for him," he said. "The devotion that they’ve shown, even after the arrest, is remarkable. Taking calls twice a day for two years, plus visiting him twice a week for two years. They clearly love him, feel very strongly about him, and clearly feel, as do the teachers [who spoke in support of McKenzie-Gude] that this was an aberration that they can’t explain.”
Mason also addressed the phone calls, which like all calls from the can jail can be monitored and recorded.
“The relationship as evidenced by the phone calls and his choice of words at times certainly seems somewhat odd, considering it’s a parent-child relationship," he said. "But then I also noted that the parents don’t seem to take offense at the language that he uses, occasionally, in his conversations with them. I frankly did not give them a great deal of weight. I did listen to them, but they don’t really sway me much one way or another.”
ORIGINAL POST: How did Collin McKenzie-Gude -- the Bethesda honor student who amassed a small arsenal in his bedroom and was linked to a possible plan to kill the president -- get along with his parents?
The question has taken center stage in one of the final acts of the nearly two-year-old case: A spate of court documents filed in advance of a sentencing hearing scheduled for Wednesday in Rockville.
Attorneys for McKenzie-Gude, who is now 20, say that as an only child he was raised as a "co-equal" by his parents to become a compassionate person whose criminal behavior was completely out of character. The attorneys spell out their argument here and in remarkably detailed letters written by his mother and father.
Prosecutors fired back in a document, titled in part "The Truth of Who Collin Is," arguing that McKenzie-Gude can be heard cursing and ridiculing his parents during recorded telephone calls he placed from the county jail. Prosecutors also assert that McKenzie-Gude made racist and anti-Semitic comments to his friends.
McKenzie-Gude was prosecuted in two different jurisdictions.
In federal court in Maryland, he pleaded guilty to storing bomb-making chemicals in his bedroom closets. Here is the judge's ruling, handed down earlier this year when McKenzie-Gude was sentenced to five years.
In Montgomery County, state prosecutors went after his actions the day he found out police were about to search those closets. He drove to White Flint mall, where he tried to carjack an older man. McKenzie-Gude will be sentenced for that crime today. Here is the prosecution's description of what happened.
The subject of McKenzie-Gude’s relationship with his parents has come up in the past. At his federal sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte told McKenzie-Gude:
I'm not happy with what your parents did with you here. It's always difficult for me to say to parents that you share some responsibility here, but your parents do. You never should have been given the leeway that you were given as a young man, particularly as you got into explosives and so on.
McKenzie-Gude also wrote an Emergency Evacuation Plan, which he stored as "top secret" document in his bedroom. His attorneys have said it was a harmless example of his his active imagination, and it explained the GPS coordinates that federal prosecutors thought were related to an assassination plot.
In the evacuation plan, McKenzie-Gude lists his parents as "dependents."
As for the telephone calls McKenzie-Gude placed from jail, some are indeed vulgar.
"What the [expletive] is going on?" he asked his father, Joseph Gude, on Dec. 11, 2009, after hearing static over the telephone.
"We can't talk because of the noise, whatever is happening to the phone," his father replied.
"Tell mom to get the [expletive] downstairs and stop making the noise," McKenzie-Gude said back.
In another call, McKenzie-Gude can be heard saying, "No offense mom. I don't know how stupid you and dad can be. I mean goddam it, mom. For Christ's sake," McKenzie-Gude said on Jan. 8, 2010.
"Well that's okay, honey," his mother responds.
Summing up the phone calls, prosecutor Peter Feeney wrote:
The phone conversations show the defendant to be highly disrespectful, even cruel, to his parents; short-tempered; profane; smug; and highly manipulative. They reveal much about Collin McKenzie-Gude, and therefore should assist the court in making an assessment of the defendant’s character.
In response, McKenzie-Gude's attorney, Steven D. Kupferberg, described submissions of the recorded phone calls wildly unfair, and wrote they represented "a few frustrated statements" amid 430 recorded telephone calls among family members who’d been unfairly dragged through the mud for more than a year.
The government does not illuminate for the court’s purpose, that the defendant and his parents spoke faithfully twice every day, virtually from the outset of his incarceration in August of 2008, and further that his parents visited faithfully with him twice per week, as allowed by the detention center. The dedication and respect between the defendant and his parents is without compare when taken in the context of an only child being incarcerated for approximately twenty months.
Kupferberg also spelled out in filings how McKenzie-Gude's former close friend, Patrick Yevsukov, has gotten off much lighter for actions that Kupferberg have said were worse than those committed by his client.
Kupferberg also wrote that McKenzie-Gude’s parents taught him compassion:
"Literally from birth, Collin was treated as a co-equal by his parents, allowed and supported to develop at his own pace and schedule," Kupferberg wrote. "The boundaries the Gudes set for Collin were fairly broad and centered on open-mindedness and respect for each other and others."
Debra McKenzie-Gude, his mother, explained it this way in a letter last year to Messitte, the federal judge:
Because of the way my husband and I 'raised' Collin – we prefer the word 'facilitate' – he was usually able to tune to his inner truth and know what was best for him. His life always turned out better when I honored that process instead of trying to impose my own agenda on him.
This item has been updated since it was first published.
-- Dan Morse
May 12, 2010; 4:07 PM ET
Categories: Dan Morse , From the Courthouse , Montgomery , Updates
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