Darel Alston admitted striking a Baltimore tavern owner in the head with an aluminum baseball bat, and still a Baltimore County jury acquitted him of the man's murder.
But a county Circuit Court judge said he was convinced Alston was partly responsible for the tavern owner's death last year.
With that, Judge Joseph F. Murphy Jr. yesterday sentenced Alston, 19, of Hanover, to 20 years -- the maximum sentence -- for robbing Leonard Gerber. The 63-year-old Gerber was struck with the aluminum baseball bat during the robbery in May 1989 and died nearly two months later in the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore.
In September, a jury convicted Alston, of the 1400 block of Holston Court, of robbing Gerber, but found him not guilty of murder.
Even though Alston admitted striking Gerber, the jury decided he was not responsible for murder after doctors testified that Gerber had two heart attacks, organ failure and a serious infection while in Shock-Trauma 53 days after the beating.
The judge said during sentencing that, despite the jury's findings, he was convinced Alston was ultimately responsible for Gerber's death.
Then, Murphy sentenced Alston to 20 years, a sentence which is to run consecutively to, or after, another 25-year sentence imposed on Alston for another robbery.
Another jury and a judge had earlier found two Alston accomplices, Charles "Will" Westbrook and Edward Love Anderson, both 19, guilty of first-degree murder in Gerber's death.
In January, a county Circuit Court jury convicted Anderson of first-degree felony murder and a judge later sentenced him to life in prison.
In April, a county Circuit Court judge convicted Westbrook of first-degree felony murder. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 27 but motions for a new trial have been filed in light of the outcome of Alston's case.
Gerber, who owned Lenny's Bar on South Hanover Street, was attacked in the front of his apartment in the 8200 block of Church Lane in Pikesville.
According to court files, the three men had followed Gerber for several days before the incident. On the night of May 6, 1989, Alston, Westbrook and Anderson, again followed Gerber to his apartment. When Gerber reached the door to his apartment, the three men approached and Alston struck him in the head with the bat.
After stealing Gerber's jewelry, handgun, and about $1,000 in receipts from the bar, the three men left him bleeding in the doorway.