On the eve of his last night alive, Russell Charles Baker, 42, a heroin addict and reputed drug courier, received a prophetic warning.
"I told him they would kill him over drugs," his 34-year-old niece, Emma Ferrame, testified yesterday at the murder trial of Dominic J. "Crowbar" Carozza, a longtime local crime figure and former city public works superintendent.
Baker's bullet-riddled body was found on the Fells Point waterfront June 22.
Each charged with first-degree murder and a handgun violation, Carozza and co-defendant Robert "Tattoo Bobby" Vizzini, 26, went on trial this week before Baltimore Circuit Judge Hilary D. Caplan.
A third defendant, alleged triggerman William Brooks, is to be tried later.
Prosecutors said a dispute over drugs and money led to Baker's death. After a run to Brooklyn, N.Y., to buy heroin, allegedly with Carozza's money, Baker and two other heroin addicts injected themselves with some of the drug, prosecutors said.
An infuriated Carozza allegedly ordered the "hit" on Baker, prosecutors said.
Ferrame's husband, Charles, testified that Baker owed Carozza $2,500 and asked Charles Ferrame for a loan to pay the debt. Charles Ferrame said he did not lend the money to Baker.
Andrew Kilgour, 45, a homeless man, testified he heard a commotion outside the wooden shack on Pier 7 that he called home. It was about 4:30 a.m. June 22. "Someone was saying, 'Screw you and your money,' " Kilgour said, adding that he heard about five shots.
Baker's girlfriend, Deana Bishop, 28, accompanied Baker and Carozza's girlfriend to Brooklyn, Bishop testified. They used some of the heroin before returning to Baltimore, Bishop said.
Carozza's criminal history spans three decades and includes numerous allegations and convictions connected to shootings, stabbings and federal firearms charges.
Carozza, who lost his right leg in a 1971 car-bomb explosion, was convicted last month by a federal jury of tampering with a witness in the Baker murder case.
The witness, Carozza's former girlfriend Marsha Hammons, is expected to testify today in city Circuit Court.