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Criminal past of Germantown murder-suicide gunman goes back to 1992 | News

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Criminal past of Germantown murder-suicide gunman goes back to 1992

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA9) -- Shock and anger continue to simmer over why the gunman in the Germantown murder-suicide wasn't behind bars despite a lengthy criminal past. 

Johnnie Perkins had an extensive criminal history dating back to 1992, with offenses that include assault, drug distribution, gun possession and numerous traffic violations, including driving under the influence of alcohol.

More than half his life has been spent in and out of jail, but never for felonies considered “violent.”

"Over the past six years, this guy [Perkins] has been involved with eight criminal charges with five suburban counties: Montgomery, PG, Frederick, Howard and Anne Arundel. And three of those six years he was in jail," Steven Van Grack, a criminal defense attorney said.  

Perkins, 42, was released in February of this year but arrested again in April and July. 

"In April, he was charged and convicted of a serious second-degree assault and other offenses, given 60 days, which seems very light, and then in July, another serious offense. Why does anybody let this guy out on bail at all?" VanGrack said. 

In a 2012 plea deal, Perkins was sentenced to eight years in prison for drug distribution and granted parole after less than three. In Maryland, non-violent offenders are eligible for parole after serving 25 percent of their sentence. Perkins served more than that.

"This homicide was absolutely preventable," Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said during a press conference Wednesday.

In the wake of the police chief’s anger, the Chair of the State’s Parole Commission said Tuesday's bloodshed could not have been predicted.  And a Maryland judge said of Perkins, “If only he had a sign on his forehead ‘Don’t release me. I’m a killer.’ But we just don’t have that crystal ball."

After that July conviction, a District Court Judge set Perkins' bond for $100,000. That meant Perkins had to come up with just $1,000 and have a bail bondsman pay the rest. He was free the next day. 

Had Perkins committed what the justice system considers a “crime of violence,” he would have had to serve more than 50 percent of his eight-year sentence to be eligible for parole.

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