Jury pondering drug-slayings case Ricardo Burks is accused of killing three teens and his brother-in-law. HC

December 20, 1991

The jury in the murder trial of Ricardo Burks was resuming its deliberations today.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Ellen L. Hollander sent the panel home last night after about seven hours of deliberations. The jury of six men and six women also deliberated about two hours Wednesday.

Burks, 31, is accused of helping murder three young men, reputed cocaine dealers, and killing his brother-in-law, Marvin Willis 3rd, during a 48-hour cocaine binge that began April 18 in Baltimore.

The prosecution tried to show that Burks participated in the murder of the three teen-agers and later killed his brother-in-law.

But Burks testified that he watched in fear as Willis shot and killed the three youths in the basement of Willis' home on Yale Avenue. He testified that he shot Willis in self-defense.

Burks' testimony contradicted toxicological tests of the victims that showed that two of them had injected potentially lethal doses of heroin moments before they were shot. One of them, 18-year-old Charles Jefferson Jr., would have lost consciousness seconds after injecting the drug, according to medical testimony.

Burks testified he saw no one inject heroin after the three visitors arrived at Willis' home. The defendant said Willis sprayed the basement with 9mm gunfire after seeing that one of the visitors was armed.

An electrician and father of five children, Burks testified that Willis became angry after they had been sold bad cocaine earlier by a dealer. They had made several drug buys and smoked crack cocaine all night.

Burks told police that he and Willis intended to buy one-fourth of an ounce of cocaine from the three young men, and he testified that Willis shot the three in his basement when he saw a gun.

Burks said that after wrapping the bodies in carpeting and disposing of them in Odenton, he and Willis continued to smoke cocaine. Burks testified that Willis later referred to him as a "loose end" and called him "weak" and a "punk" and pushed him. He said that after a struggle, he took the gun away from Willis and shot him five times.

Burks is already serving a 40-year sentence for kidnapping and robbing a couple in Owings Mills three days after the slayings.

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