Accessory To Murder Gets Suspended Sentence As Deal

March 01, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

A former Annapolis man has received a suspended sentence as part of a plea bargain that obligated him to testify against three co-defendants in a murder trial -- and, his lawyer said, made him a target in ashooting.

Christopher Deon Jones, 22, received a five-year suspended sentence Friday in county Circuit Court for being an accessory after the fact in the January 1991 murder of 22-year-old Sylvester Wayne "Tink" Johnson.

Lawyer Paul Kirby told the court that Jones fulfilled his end of the bargain at personal risk. "He's been shot at," Kirby said.

In the end, Jones testified in only one case because two of his co-defendants, including Howard Eugene "Howdy" Stevens Jr., who fired the shots that killed Johnson, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder to avoid trials.

Days before Stevens was scheduled to go to trial, Joneswas shot at while leaving a Glen Burnie house, prosecutor Frank Ragione said. Ragione said that no one was injured and no arrests were made. He said no further evidence was uncovered to link the shooting toJones' scheduled testimony.

The prosecutor said Jones moved to North Carolina, where his parents were living, immediately after the shooting. Neither Jones nor Kirby would comment on the shooting.

Prosecutors allowed Stevens, 25, to plead guilty to second-degree murderrather than risk allowing a judge to make a pretrial ruling that could have crippled their case. Stevens received a 20-year sentence, with 10 years suspended.

David Marshall "Manzie" Chapman, 24, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Johnson's slaying, was sentenced in December to 15 years in prison.

Jones testified last month against the third co-defendant, Gary Ellis "Peanut" Brown Jr.

Brown, 21, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to murder when a jury became deadlocked in deliberations during his first-degreemurder trial.

Although he had testified in the trial, Jones said he remains close friends with Brown. While the jury deliberated the Annapolis man's fate last month, Jones mingled with Brown and his friends.

Prosecutors have said Johnson was hunted down and shot dead as he slept in his car in a back alley near an Eastport housing project.

Jones, who admitted driving the getaway car after the slaying, pleaded guilty last July to being an accessory after the fact. In addition to the suspended sentence, Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. placed Jones on probation for five years and ordered him to pay $235 in courtcosts.

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