Trial of 3 men in firebombing opens with tears

September 25, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Betty Moore lifted her glasses and wiped tears from her eyes.

She was on the witness stand, describing the firebombing that killed two of her young grandchildren.

"My living room said, 'woof.' All I could see was smoke and fire," she said yesterday, testifying in the trial of three men accused of murder by tossing a Molotov cocktail into her East Baltimore rowhouse Jan. 3 as part of a drug dispute.

"I was trying to get up the steps, screaming: 'Someone get the children out.' "

Reva Shalita Moore, 5, and Anthony Jamar Moore, 4, did not get out. Other occupants of the house in the 2000 block of Federal St. escaped by leaping from a rear bedroom onto the roof of a first-floor summer kitchen. And one man was critically injured after falling from a front third-floor bedroom.

The children's bodies were found in that room.

"This case is about drugs and revenge and murder," said April Gluckstern, an assistant state's attorney, addressing a city Circuit Court jury yesterday as the trial began.

The intended victim, she said, was a family friend who owed a drug dealer money.

She said a witness would place the three defendants near the Moore home before the fire and would say that Renford A. Martin, 31, described by police as a Jamaican national, threw a lighted container of gasoline through a first-floor living room window.

Also charged with arson and two counts of first-degree murder ** are Lennroy A. Martin, 30, Renford's brother; and Duane Dundas, 20. All of the defendants have the same address in the 2200 block of Mura St.

The prosecution is trying to link the three defendants to the crime through Thomas Hobbs, former boyfriend of the dead children's mother.

Mr. Hobbs said he agreed to sell $300 worth of Mr. Dundas' "ready rock" cocaine so he could buy Christmas presents for the children.

But Mr. Dundas never got his money because most of the drugs were later stolen, Mr. Hobbs said, adding he and his friends also smoked some of the cocaine.

He also said he and three others in the house, including the mother of the dead babies, sniffed heroin the night of the fire.

Apparently attempting to raise questions about Mr. Hobbs' veracity, defense attorneys asked him why he never bought any Christmas presents after he sold $40 worth of drugs.

And they showed him a transcript of his grand jury testimony that he and his friends were smoking cocaine the night of the fire.

The witness replied, "That's what the paper says, but I may have been nervous that day. So many things were happening."

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