'Crowbar' is convicted in junkie murder retrial Same case brings same verdict for him and partner

July 10, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Dominic J. "Crowbar" Carozza swallowed and muttered something to his lawyer.

Other than that, the longtime crime figure from Albemarle Street didn't display much reaction when a jury found him guilty yesterday in the murder of a junkie who owed him money.

His equally guilty co-defendant, Robert J. "Tattoo Bobby" Vizzini, didn't do much either. Just blinked and lowered his head for a second or two.

And then they left the courtroom, Vizzini in handcuffs, Carozza in his wheelchair.

On his way out, 60-year-old Carozza turned toward his sister and offered a look that seemed to say, "Can you believe this is happening again?"

It was the second trial for Carozza and Vizzini in the June 1990 shooting death of Russell Charles Baker, a 42-year-old heroin addict found dead on Pier 7 in Fells Point.

A Baltimore Circuit Court jury found both men guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy and handgun violations last year.

A judge sentenced both to life in prison.

But a new trial was ordered in March after the Court of Special Appeals reversed the convictions. The court ruled that first trial was tainted by hearsay evidence and the admission of racial remark.

Carozza -- a former city public works supervisor who, legend has it, picked up his street name through his choice of weaponry in early loan-sharking endeavors -- had been questioned about his suggestion that two black police officers should go back to the jungle and swing from the trees.

That was just one of the provocative remarks to come from Carozza during that first trial.

Proclaiming his innocence through the sentencing hearing, he accused a prosecutor of smirking and the judge, Hilary D. Caplan, of "playing God."

In the second trial, the prosecution presented the same case.

Witnesses described incriminating statements made by the defendants that seemed to support the prosecution theory that Carozza enlisted Vizzini's help in killing Baker for failing to repay $2,400 borrowed for an excursion to New York to buy heroin.

"I'm glad we killed that junkie . . . Russell Baker," Carozza barked into a telephone in his "shore home" in Middle River, according to prosecutor Timothy J. Doory.

The defense was the same too: that the witnesses were habitual liars willing to say what prosecutors told them to say to save their own necks.

"The man is nothing but a lying bum," defense attorney Phillip M. Sutley said of key prosecution witness John Long in remarks to the jury.

The jury deliberated three hours Wednesday and 3 1/2 hours yesterday before finding both men guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.

The jury deliberated another two and a half hours on the remaining charges of murder and handgun violations before Judge David Ross sent them home for the night.

Leaving the courthouse for the trip back to city jail, Carozza described the verdict as "very unfair."

As he was wheeled through the garage beneath the courthouse, he passed a departing Judge Ross and appeared to mouth invectives for several seconds.

Judge Ross started his silver convertible sports car, waved to Carozza and drove off.

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