Howard Co. teen sentenced to jail for burning speed camera

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — A Howard County teen has been sentenced to two days in jail for setting fire to a speed camera near Glenelg High School and trying to light another last May.

Connor Eash, 19, of Glenelg, admitted to setting a speed camera on fire on May 22, 2014. Howard County Police witnessed Eash return to the same location two days later with an ax, gasoline and a lighter. He was arrested after fleeing the scene, telling officers he considered speed cameras to be immoral.

Circuit Court Judge Richard S. Bernhardt issued the two-day sentence after a passionate plea from Eash,  a Howard County police officer and attorney Edward Curry to avoid jail time.

Howard County State’s Attorney Colleen McGuinn urged Bernhardt to sentence Eash to 10 days in jail because he paid more than $15,000 restitution to Xerox State and Local Solutions, which owns the speed camera.

“Certainly this is not the crime of the century,” McGuinn told the court. “But it’s also not a teenage prank. This is not an act of civil disobedience. This is not a joke and it is not funny.”

Curry argued that Eash was a bright kid with a good character who became lost and depressed when his friends went off to college while he attended community college.

Eash added that he got involved with the wrong crowd, started drinking, then became more depressed when he discovered his girlfriend cheating on him with his best friend. He also said he took politics too personally, seeing things as right or wrong, good or bad.

But Eash also told the judge that those events were not an excuse for what he did.

“These were reckless, immature decisions,” he told the judge, calling it a tremendous misjudgment.

“For those who consider what I did cool, that’s misguided praise. It is in no way cool to put your parents in such anguish or to jeopardize your future,” he added.

Howard County Captain Dan Coon, a friend of the Eash family, said what Eash did was out of character.

“I was shocked to learn he did it. I was angry as a taxpayer and disappointed in him. It was a despicable, inexcusable act. He’s learned an important life lesson the hard way. But I don’t think you’ll see him in a courtroom ever again,” says Coon.

Bernhardt praised Eash for recognizing the anguish he put his family through and for paying the restitution for the camera.

“I don’t think anyone likes these cameras. But this is more than silliness. It’s not a political statement. This is wrong because it’s dangerous for first-responders and it shows a disregard for the laws,” said the judge.

As Bernhardt sentenced Eash to two days in jail, his family cried in the courtroom.

“I thought the judge made a fair and reasoned sentence. It reflected the severity of the actions, but it also took into account that Mr. Eash did make reparations. He is also a very young man and stood before the court as someone who has never been convicted before,” says McGuinn.

Bernhardt also sentenced Eash to three years probation and 200 hours of community service. Eash is expected to be released this weekend.

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