William Richard Leapley Jr., 27, who is deaf and described by his lawyer as having emotional and educational issues, pleaded guilty Tuesday to three counts of felony assault before Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Paul A. Hackner.
Prosecutor Brian Marsh said he probably will seek a prison term of more than three years, as one of the officers might have career-ending injuries.
Defense attorney Peter O'Neill said he would like to see his client, who has no criminal record, placed in a group home or similar setting "for people who have significant emotional and educational handicaps. That's what we're asking for – for them to give him a chance."
Why Leapley rammed the police officers' cruisers was not explained. O'Neill later said Leapley suffers from anxiety problems and has an "underlying mental health problem that is being addressed at Springfield Hospital" Center, where Leapley is being treated. He said Leapley does not "process information in a mature fashion that we would expect of people his age."
Lawyers said state doctors found Leapley mentally competent to stand trial.
Two sign-language interpreters helped Leapley through the court hearing.
Marsh said that Leapley and his brother quarreled the night of Jan. 18, and police were called. By the time officers arrived, Leapley was gone. Marsh told Hackner that the next morning, officers saw Leapley leave the family's home in the 3600 block of Solomons Island Road. When they tried to approach him, he rammed his pickup truck into their cruisers, boosting one of the cars into an officer standing in front of it and sending him into the air, Marsh said.
Leapley drove off, heading south on Solomons Island Road, where a third officer spotted his truck. Leapley then turned his truck around and struck that police cruiser, shoving it into traffic, where it collided with a passing car and then into a guardrail, Marsh said.
At the time, police said the driver of the passing car was not hurt; the officers were treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center. They said Leapley drove to a house in the 4500 block of Polling House Road, where he was arrested.