The human cost of money, drugs.

Don Rodricks

September 19, 1990|By Don Rodricks

I got to go the bathroom," said the kid in the sweat suit, his hands cuffed behind his back.

"Just a minute," answered one of the police officers at the sergeant's desk in the Central District.

The kid, 14 years old, was getting angrier and angrier, if such a thing were possible, while he stood there Sunday night, shortly after his arrest. Papers had to be filled out. The kid was going nowhere but to City Jail, and he must have been sick of waiting, must have been sick of the whole thing, because, in what those attending construed as an act of defiance -- or what some psychologist might construe as an act of self-hatred -- the 14-year-old wet himself, right there on the police station floor. Then they took him away.

The kid and his cousin, also 14 years old, were processed and questioned. They gave statements to homicide detectives investigating Baltimore's 208th murder case of the year. During all of this, no one came around to claim these children -- no parents, no guardians. The mother of a third kid, a 17-year-old named Robert, showed up at the Criminal Investigation Division and was heard to say, "I keep telling him not to hang around with that Wayne."

"Wayne" was a reference to a man identified by police as the leader of a small, street-corner cocaine ring in East Baltimore. His full name is Dwayne Brown. At 28, he is twice the age of the kids he is alleged to have hired to drum up business for his drug operation. He is also alleged to have handed a gun to the two 14-year-old cousins to murder a 4-foot-11 teen-ager named Daniel Carter. The story of Daniel Carter's death is one of the most sinister imaginable in a city where violent, drug-related crime no longer comes with imaginative twists. When Carter's small body was found in Druid Hill Park the other day, he became the city's 208th homicide of 1990. By yesterday afternoon, the count had risen to 211. That was 22 ahead of last year's pace and, of course, many of them have been the result of drug commerce -- in some macabre way, the cost of doing business -- which makes them easy to kiss off. Daniel Carter's murder is not so easy to dismiss because, as told to police, it shows how Baltimore's drug trade easily attracts, quickly infests and eventually destroys the young men who grow up on its most desperate streets. It remains the curse on the city's future.

Dwayne Brown, according to police, liked to use kids because they were relatively cheap and easy to dominate. He had about eight kids working for him. Most of them were 14 or 15. Police say he paid them $450 to $600 a week to bring him customers. During exceptional weeks, the most productive kids would get $100 bonuses.

Brown rented a stash house in the 2000 block of Mura St., an alley that runs parallel to the Formstone houses of East Preston Street, where the two 14-year-old cousins lived. The stash house was behind Israel Baptist Church. Until last Wednesday night, 18-year-old Daniel Carter allegedly ran the stash house for Brown. The younger boys would hawk for customers, set up deals, come to Brown with money, pick up cocaine and make deliveries. One day last week, however, the daily tally was short.

The way the story has been told to police, $900 was missing from the stash house. Brown suspected two of his employees of the theft -- the reputed stash house manager, Carter, and another unidentified teen-ager. Wednesday night, urgent notice was given to Brown's young servants of an important meeting at the stash house. At the meeting, Carter and the other suspect were ordered to sprawl on the floor. Brown ordered the other kids to beat them with sticks and pipes, anything that was available in the old rowhouse. And, as the 14- and 15-year-olds administered the beatings, one of two things happened: Either Carter, battered and bleeding, admitted to the theft or the other suspect, battered and bleeding, snitched on him.

And so it was determined that the 4-foot-11 Daniel Carter had betrayed his boss. Brown, his power affirmed, then pulled his van up to the house and ordered three of the younger kids to put Daniel Carter in the van. The kids followed instructions. Then they accompanied Brown for a drive to Druid Hill Park. According to police Detective Mark Tomlin, who investigated the case, Brown parked the van, handed a gun to the two 14-year-old cousins and told them to execute Daniel Carter. The police report says his killers stood Daniel Carter against a tree and shot him. "And after that," Tomlin said, "Brown drove the boys home." He was, after all, the only one old enough to drive.

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