Johnson, In Sudden Shift, Rejects Guilty Plea In Killing

Deal Included Maximum Of 10 Years In Jail

November 19, 1991|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff writer

In a last-minute change of heart, an Annapolis man charged with the January murder of Sylvester Wayne "Tink" Johnson rejected a plea agreement Monday that would have sent him to jail for no more than 10 years.

Gary Ellis "Peanut" Brown Jr., 21, who has listed numerous addresses in Annapolis as his home, is charged with second-degree murder. His public defender, Carroll McCabe, refused to comment on what influenced Brown's decision to seek a jury trial.

Prosecutor Frank Ragione said he did not know of any new evidenceor other reasons for Brown's decision.

Two of Brown's co-defendants -- David Marshall "Manzie" Chapman, 24, and Christopher Dean Jones, 22 -- have pleaded guilty in the slaying.

Chapman, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, will receive a 25-year prison sentencewith seven years suspended. Jones, who pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder after the fact, will receive a five-year suspended sentence and probation, said Ragione. Both are free on bail pending sentencing in December.

A fourth man, Howard Eugene Stevens Jr., 24, is scheduled for trial next Monday, Ragione said. Stevens is alleged to have fired the shots that killed Johnson.

Court records show that Stevens admitted to shooting Johnson with a .38-caliber revolver. Johnson was allegedly shot because he threatened some of Stevens' friends who owed him money.

According to the prosecutor, Johnson, apolice informant, was murdered as he sat sleeping in his car. He wasfound dead, slumped behind the wheel of his yellow 1981 Datsun 280Z,in an alley near the Eastport Terrace housing project in Annapolis.

A prosecution witness has stated that three of the co-defendants, all except Jones, were armed when they left her home on the night of the shooting. Jones pleaded guilty to being the driver.

Ragione said statements by witnesses have indicated that Brown attempted to shoot at Johnson but his gun jammed.

A trial date has not been set for Brown, who is free on $75,000 bond. Ragione said he hopes to have atrial date set as close to the end of Stevens' trial as possible.

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