Eight months before he allegedly went on a workplace shooting rampage that killed three co-workers and left two others wounded, a former employer of Radee Prince worried enough about his temper that he sought protection from the courts.
That request for a peace order — Maryland’s equivalent of a restraining order — was denied by a Harford County District Court judge. While no one from Prince’s previous job was harmed Wednesday, the denial raised questions about the standard for obtaining a stay-away order in Maryland.
“Hindsight’s 20/20, but I feel [the previous claims were] a little short,” said Karen Jones, a Harford County attorney not involved in the cases.
The peace order was filed Feb. 28 by the owner of another granite company in Edgewood where Prince worked until he was fired for allegedly punching another employee in the face. He could not be reached for comment.
The employer wrote in his petition that Prince came back to the business three times “justifying what he did was right becasue the other guy was saying some things that he did not like.”
A fourth time, Prince allegedly “came to see me, cursed and yelled at me… I felt very threatened because he is a big guy and very aggressive on me,” the employer wrote.
He said Prince did not touch him physically, but “I do not want to wait until he will, plus, he already punched a co-worker,” according to the complaint. “He can also do it to me.”
District Court Judge David Carey denied the request, saying it “did not meet the required burden of proof.”
A clerk for Carey said as a rule, judges do not comment on cases and said Carey was not in the office Thursday.
David Henninger, a Harford-based attorney not involved in the case, said he thought the claims were sufficient for a peace order. He said the standard of proof for peace orders is a “preponderance of evidence — not a real high standard.”
“If he’s already punched somebody there, that would be a legitimate concern for your safety,” Henninger said. “You have to have apprehension of immediate harm or offensive contact — that’s what’s required. If he actually assaulted somebody there, I think that’s enough.”
Jones wasn’t so sure.
“They have to set forth grounds that their fear is because they in the past have either been a victim or have been assaulted or he put them in danger. I think it does fall a little short,” she said.
Douglas Dolan, an attorney and former Harford County prosecutor, said the courts “usually err on the side of protection.”
“In this case it doesn’t sound like any of the threats of violence were directed at the person who requested the peace order,” Dolan said.
In Maryland, people can request two types of stay away orders. A peace order applies to non-related people who don’t live together and don’t have any children; protective orders are for people who meet that criteria.
Peace orders are good for up to six months, and a judge can order the respondent not to contact or visit the person who requested the order.
The state’s peace order act says the criteria for receiving a peace order includes “an act that causes you serious bodily harm (e.g., kicking, punching, choking, shooting, stabbing, shoving), an act that places you in fear of serious imminent bodily harm; harassment; stalking; trespassing; misuse of telephone or computer equipment.” “Revenge porn” was added to the statute in 2014.
Carey was appointed to the bench in 2013 by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley. He was a longtime Bel Air town commissioner and mayor, and is married to Rachael Rice, a fundraiser for many prominent politicians.