An inmate in Baltimore, Maryland, hung himself in his cell the day after he was sentenced to 123 years in prison.
George Johnson, 28, was found dead in his cell by a guard making his rounds on Dec. 15, according to The Baltimore Sun. The medical examiner's office determined he died by hanging.
Johnson had been convicted on several counts after he fled from police and held hostages in a Baltimore Burger King during July 2016. The incident began with a car chase after police tried to arrest Johnson in connection to a rape. After Johnson crashed his car, he ran into a nearby Burger King and held four people, including a 7-year-old girl, at gunpoint for several hours. He ultimately surrendered peacefully and released all the hostages unharmed.
In October 2017, Johnson was convicted of four counts of false imprisonment and four counts of reckless endangerment. He was acquitted of other charges, including first- and second-degree assault and use of a firearm in a violent crime.
On Dec. 14, Johnson was sentenced to 123 years in prison, receiving 25 years for each count of false imprisonment. After the sentencing hearing, Johnson's attorney, Anne Marie Gering, said the sentence was "very excessive and demoralizing" to her client. Johnson's sentencing guidelines suggested he receive between one and 17 years in prison.
"I pray that the victims in this case will be able to heal from the emotional scars caused by such a traumatic experience," said State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby in a statement.
According to The Baltimore Sun, the charge of false imprisonment has no specific penalty in Maryland other than not being "cruel and unusual."
"There needs to be a statutory maximum given to that charge to give guidance for what we intend the maximum to be," Gering said.
Gering characterized Johnson's sentence as harsh, saying her client never intended to hurt any of his hostages and only wanted to escape the police.
After Johnson surrendered in 2016, Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith said Johnson had been clear during negotiations that he didn't want to hurt hostages.
"He made the decision to do the right thing and that was not to harm anyone," Smith said. "He absolutely had the opportunity to do so, but he chose not to do so."
Some commenters on Facebook expressed incredulity at the length of Johnson's sentence while others showed far less sympathy.
"I don't get it," wrote one commenter. "He faced 123 years and didn't kill anyone. Yet you have dudes convicted of killing people and out on the street in under 10 years."
"If you can't do tha time...don't be a moron," wrote another. "That is all."