EASTON — The man who police found hiding under the bed in a Trappe home in May pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary during a plea hearing on Monday, Dec. 13.
Talbot Circuit Judge Stephen Kehoe sentenced William Clarence Thomas, 59, to 15 years in jail and suspended all but 91 days. The judge credited Thomas with time served for the 91 days he spent in the county jail.
Instead of jail time, Thomas was given five years of supervised probation, which includes avoiding narcotics and alcohol, and 160 hours of community service. Kehoe also ordered Thomas to pay $1955 in restitution for damages from another case.
The first-degree burglary charge stemmed from a trespassing incident in a Trappe home in May. Around 4 p.m. on May 23, Kevin L. Camper reported finding an unknown Black male lying on the floor next to the bed in an upstairs bedroom. The home belonged to Camper’s deceased father Daniel Camper Jr., whom Thomas later claimed was his friend from church.
Officers entered the home and found Thomas lying underneath the bed where Camper stated he was. Thomas was reportedly found wearing a pair of blue rubber medical gloves with dirt on them, according to police.
Thomas added that the deceased was allegedly in possession of some of his tools and he was trying to retrieve them. When officers asked Thomas if he had permission from the family to be in the residence, he stated that he did not, police said.
Camper testified on behalf of the prosecution during the plea hearing and told the court he was still “very disturbed” by the statements Thomas had made about his deceased father, especially the claim that he had borrowed tools from Thomas. Camper stated that he was offended by that and explained that his father, who was an affluent and giving man, collected tools.
While Camper doesn’t live in the Trappe home, he does still spend time there, he said. He added that every time he enters the house, he expects to find Thomas hiding somewhere.
Prosecutor Colin Carmello emphasized the lasting impact that finding Thomas hiding in the home had on Camper. He stated that Camper is not able to go to the home with peace of mind and takes precautions every time he goes over.
After looking at Thomas’s prior criminal history, which included robbery, controlled dangerous substance distribution, burglary and assault, Carmello recommended seven to 15 years of active incarceration for Thomas to the judge.
Tony Amey, the executive director of the structured sober living home where Thomas now lives, testified on behalf of Thomas. Amey said that Thomas has been “absolutely fantastic” and that he was planning on recommending Thomas for a managerial position within the house.
Even though Thomas had been suffering from a crack cocaine dependency before entering sober living, he hasn’t tested positive for drugs at all in the five months that he’d been living there, Amey said. He added that Thomas had also started working at a local restaurant chain.
Defense attorney Kisha Petticolas also spoke positively of Thomas, saying he wasn’t the same person that had committed offenses years earlier.
Thomas is “the best he’s ever been in his life,” Petticolas said, adding that the change was quite dramatic.
Jail would be detrimental to Thomas after his hard work and commitment to sobriety, Petticolas said. She asked Kehoe to consider a suspended sentence and assigning community service.
Thomas also addressed the court, first apologizing to Camper for what he did. He had realized he was “too old for this” and asked the court to “let me show that I’m a respectable citizen.”
Prior to handing down his sentence, Kehoe pointed out that this was a strange case and that it was clear that the break-in was due to Thomas’s addiction. He also considered the hurt to Camper and his family.
Kehoe also highlighted Thomas’s commitment to sobriety, saying it seemed like his first real attempt at avoiding substances.
He sentenced Thomas to 15 years in jail and elected to suspend all but 91 days, then crediting him with 91 days of time served.
Kehoe also handed down five years of supervised probation, telling Thomas he must stay in his current home or other sober living so he could “continue to be on the road to recovery.” Additionally, Thomas must complete 160 hours of community service by Dec. 31, 2023.
Natalie Jones is a reporter at The Star Democrat in Easton covering crime, health, education and Talbot County Council. You can reach her with questions, comments or tips at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliemjones.