Carozza proclaims innocence, gets life Judge denies requests for new lawyer, trial.

April 25, 1991|By Raymond L. Sanchez | Raymond L. Sanchez,Evening Sun Staff

A headline on an Evening Sun story in yesterday's final edition incorrectly reported a judge's ruling during a sentencing hearing for Dominic Carozza, a convicted murderer. The judge denied Carozza's request for a postponement of sentencing.

The Evening Sun regrets the error.

Dominic J. "Crowbar" Carozza, still proclaiming his innocence and sparring with the judge, was sentenced to life in prison today for his role in the murder of a heroin addict over a $2,400 debt.

Co-defendant Robert "Tattoo Bobby" Vizzini, 26, who drove the getaway car, also was sentenced to life by Baltimore Circuit Judge Hilary D. Caplan.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Taking a page from his trial last month, Carozza, 59, took jabs at Caplan -- "I told you you're God" -- and assistant state's attorney Elizabeth A. Ritter -- "She sits there with a smirk on her face."

Carozza, a former city public works employee who lost his right leg in a 1971 car bomb explosion, wanted a postponement to look for a new lawyer to handle his appeal. Phillip M. Sutley represented him at trial. Carozza also asked for a new trial.

The judge denied both requests.

"The general consensus of everybody was that this was not a fair trial," Carozza told the judge. "The tricks that were pulled in this courtroom were unheard of in the annals of the law."

Caplan explained no one is happy about getting convicted.

"Your honor, please don't insult my intelligence with old cliches," Carozza said. "I was railroaded."

Carozza and Vizzini were convicted March 5 of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and handgun violations in connection with the slaying of Russell Charles Baker, 42, a heroin addict who allegedly owed Carozza money. Baker was shot six times on Pier 7 in Fells Point.

Carozza testified that he was sleeping off a hangover when Baker was killed.

"You're looking at an innocent man," Carozza said before sentencing. "The state bought this case. They played let's make a deal."

Vizzini, who did not testify at the trial, also said he was innocent and told the court that his girlfriend and 5-month-old child have been threatened.

Caplan sentenced Carozza to a life term on the murder, a concurrent life term on the conspiracy, and a consecutive five-year term on the handgun violation. He will be eligible for parole in about 13 years, prosecutors said.

Vizzini received two concurrent life sentences on the murder and the conspiracy charges, and a concurrent five-year term on the handgun charge. He will be eligible for parole in 11 years.

Baker and Marsha Hammons, 36, Carozza's girlfriend, borrowed $2,400 from Carozza to buy heroin in New York, according to trial testimony. They were supposed to sell the drugs but used the drugs themselves. They tried to persuade an enraged Carozza that they had been cheated in the drug deal and could not repay him.

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