Evidence, reputation led jury to convict Carozza, 2nd man convicted of murder.

March 06, 1991|By Raymond L. Sanchez | Raymond L. Sanchez,Evening Sun Staff

In the end, Dominic J. "Crowbar" Carozza's past seems to have caught up with him.

"The man has a bad reputation," said one of the 12 jurors who yesterday convicted Carozza and a co-defendant of murder. "You could just sense it."

Carozza, 59, and Robert "Tattoo Bobby" Vizzini, 26, were convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and a handgun violation in connection with the June 22 shooting of Russell Charles Baker, 42, a reputed drug courier who owed Carozza money.

Carozza and Vizzini are to be sentenced April 25.

The foreman of the Baltimore Circuit Court jury, a 58-year-old engineer who asked to remain anonymous, said the state's "strong circumstantial evidence" persuaded the jury to convict the defendants. He described the jury's 3 1/2 hours of deliberations as "very intense."

The jury of 10 women and two men had to consider the state's case, built mostly around the testimony of unsavory characters involved with drugs, and Carozza's day on the witness stand.

Carozza, a suspended city public works supervisor with a long criminal history, testified last week that he was sleeping in his Little Italy home when Baker was murdered.

But Carozza's abuse and sarcasm under cross-examination by prosecutor Elizabeth A. Ritter -- not his uncorroborated alibi -- had a lasting impression on some jurors.

"He was irrational, angry, belligerent and cocky," said one juror, a 29-year-old secretary. "And he was a liar."

Another juror said, "He couldn't be believed."

Judge Hilary D. Caplan can impose life prison terms when he sentences Carozza and Vizzini, who drove Baker to the Fells Point waterfront the morning of the murder. William "Crazy" Brooks, the alleged triggerman, will be tried later.

Baker, a heroin addict, was shot six times on Pier 7 in Fells Point. Baker's car was found near Carozza's Albemarle Street home.

Baker and Marsha Hammons, 36, Carozza's girlfriend, borrowed more than $2,000 from Carozza to buy heroin in Brooklyn, N.Y., according to testimony. Baker was supposed to sell the heroin with Hammons, but they instead used most of the narcotics.

Carozza, who lost his right leg in a 1971 car-bomb explosion, became angry when the the heroin was replaced with a look-alike white powder.

Defense lawyers argued that the state's case was based on innuendo. And Phillip Sutley, Carozza's lawyer, painted his client as a hard-working city employee who liked helping people.

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