In all other aspects of his life, said defense attorney Katherine Carlo, Centreville's Bruce Eugene Landrum was "exemplary." But raping his 12-year-old niece, said authorities, tipped the scale drastically in the other direction.
And last Friday, in Fairfax County Circuit Court, he began paying the price. Judge Kathleen MacKay sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
"He had plenty of opportunities to stop abusing this girl, but he didn't," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ann Larkin, prior to Landrum's sentencing. "Clearly, this will have a huge impact on her life — it already has."
On June 10, 2001, Fairfax County police arrested Landrum, 42, of 5561 Rockpointe Drive, charging him with two counts of rape. Police contended that, on many occasions, several years ago in his home, he sexually assaulted a niece who was then 12 years old.
"The victim came to the police recently [and made a complaint]," said police spokeswoman Sophia Grinnan, shortly after the arrest. "Through investigation, we determined that it was accurate information."
Police arrested Landrum at the Criminal Investigations Bureau. He was then taken to the Adult Detention Center and was released, two days later, on $20,000 bond. But on July 26, a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court judge sent both his charges to the grand jury, which later indicted him on both counts.
After a two-day jury trial, Jan. 15-16 in Circuit Court, the jury acquitted him of one charge and convicted him of the other — recommending that he serve 10 years in prison as his punishment. He returned to court Friday, March 7, for sentencing, and Larkin asked Judge MacKay to impose the entire sentence, without suspending any of it.
Referring to a statement in which Landrum wrote that he'd "lived a life of honesty and integrity," Larkin told MacKay that, in fact, just the opposite was true. Said the prosecutor: "He sexually abused this girl for years — and threatened her if she told the truth."
Larkin also noted Landrum's written plea to the judge, urging her to consider the effect a harsh sentence would have on his family — especially if he were imprisoned for a long time. But, said Larkin, "If you did that, no one would ever go to prison."
However, Carlo noted that even the victim — who'd also written a letter — implored MacKay to think about showing Landrum some leniency so that his 6-year-old son could grow up knowing his father. Landrum had served 20 years in the Navy and had most recently been in a management position for a private company.
"There have been no other criminal problems with him — and no substance-abuse problems — and there's been a level of remorse," said Carlo. "Consider the life this man has led, outside this context," she told the judge. "[Have] some mercy, and consider suspending some portion of his sentence."
At his trial, Landrum had pleaded "not guilty," saying there was no improper sexual contact between himself and the victim during the time periods alleged in the criminal indictment. But the jury did not believe him, and Larkin didn't at all buy his explanation for what led up to the unfortunate event.
"He said she developed a high-school crush on him," said Larkin. "But she was 12 and was living with him at the time. And the fact that he'd even think that shows he's failed to grasp the magnitude of what he'd done."
Before the judge pronounced sentence, Friday, Landrum stood and said how sorry he was. "I take full responsibility for what happened," he said. "And I express my apology to [the victim] and thank my family for its support."
MacKay then imposed the jury's full, 10-year sentence. She also placed Landrum on two years' post-release supervision. Afterward, Carlo gave her response to the sentence.
"[As a defense attorney], you're always hoping for less," she said. "But it's unusual for a judge to deviate from a jury's recommendation — and the recommendation was in the middle of the [state sentencing] guidelines. She's a thoughtful judge, and I'm sure she gave it a lot of consideration."