A 17-year-old youth pleaded guilty yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court to the Oct. 20, 1989, murder and robbery of a popular Baltimore schoolteacher -- a crime set in motion when a friend suggested robbing someone to get money to buy cocaine.
Derrick Antonio Allbrook faces a maximum penalty of life plus 40 years for killing Jerome C. McDaniel, who taught at Ashburton Elementary School. He will be sentenced Jan. 29 by Judge Ellen M. Heller.
His guilty plea resolves one of three cases pending against Allbrook, who also is charged with an armed robbery and with another murder, in December 1988. That murder, allegedly committed with Timothy Maurice Jones, 19, also occurred in Druid Hill Park under circumstances similar to Mr. McDaniel's murder, the police said.
Several times during yesterday's hearing, Allbrook's mother cried softly and hung her head in despair as her son admitted his guilt in killing Mr. McDaniel, who was shot to death near the Reptile House in Druid Hill Park.
According to Sharon R. Holback, who prosecuted the case, on the night of the murder Allbrook was standing with several friends when the suggestion was made to rob someone to get money for cocaine. At that point, Mr. Jones, who also is charged in the murder, got his .22-caliber handgun and gave it to Allbrook.
On Oct. 29, 1989, Ms. Holback said, police found Allbrook and another person playing football in Druid Hill Park. They questioned the pair at police headquarters. Allbrook initially portrayed himself as a lookout and Mr. Jones as the gunman.
In his statement he said: "[Timothy Jones] said I'm going over to rob a faggot. So he asked me to go with him. I said OK. . . . When I heard the last shot, I heard the man scream. He was like screaming 'Help!' "
However, a witness told police that it was Allbrook's idea to steal a car, that Allbrook went into the park with Mr. Jones' gun, that there were gunshots and the sound of a man screaming for help.
According to the witness, at a later meeting Mr. Jones angrily told Allbrook he shouldn't have killed the victim, that he should have beaten him and taken his car. Allbrook allegedly said he had to kill the man.
When informed of the witnesses' statements, Allbrook broke down and confessed.
"OK, this is the truth," he told police. "OK. I didn't plan to kill him, but he put moves on me. I shot him in the leg and then kept firing."
Mr. McDaniel was shot three times in the chest and once in the left leg. According to the medical examiner, he was probably lying down when he was shot in the chest.
Mr. Jones, who rejected state offers to plead guilty, is scheduled to go on trial today for his role in Mr. McDaniel's murder.