Bail bondsman Angelo Garrison Sr. was awaiting trial on drug-distribution charges when he and his 3-year-old son were ambushed and shot dead last week on a downtown street.
The drug activity laid to Garrison, who was on probation for a 1990 felony drug conviction, also had been described during a current drug trial in federal court.
Although they have obtained a warrant charging a 20-year-old man with two counts of first-degree murder, city homicide detectives have not ascribed a motive to the double slaying. The detectives said they have been told Garrison's shooting may have stemmed from a love triangle. The suspect, Levon Stokes, remained at large yesterday.
Garrison, 23, was shot twice in the head Thursday night near his business in the 300 block of Park Ave. As Garrison lay mortally wounded on the ground, another bullet went through the rear passenger window of his car and struck Angelo Garrison Jr. in the head.
Whether the boy was intentionally shot also remains unclear; some witnesses have told police that the gunman took aim at the boy. Another infant in the back seat was not injured, nor was the children's mother, who was standing outside the late-model Volvo.
In 1990 Garrison received a five-year suspended sentence and five years of probation after pleading guilty to possessing heroin with the intent to distribute, court records show. He had been scheduled to stand trial May 5 in Baltimore Circuit Court on charges of selling 2 grams of heroin to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent on Dec. 18, 1989.
Also, Garrison was indicted last month on charges of selling unspecified quantities of heroin and cocaine to the same agent on Dec. 12, 1989, according to court records. A warrant issued in connection with that indictment apparently had not been served.
David Copperthite, a city prosecutor assigned to Garrison's cases, said the filing of formal charges was delayed because a DEA investigation was in progress. "They didn't want to blow the investigation," Mr. Copperthite said. He added that Garrison's alleged sales to the DEA agent were mentioned in testimony during the current trial of Lamont "Mont" Allen and four co-defendants in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Concerns were raised about whether the jury in the Allen trial had been exposed to news of Garrison's killing, Mr. Copperthite said in a brief interview yesterday at the federal courthouse. That interview ended when he was called back into the courtroom to resume the trial, which involves the activities of a suspected West Baltimore heroin ring.
The trial began March 29. Federal prosecutors had placed Garrison's name on the witness list for the trial, but said they were not expecting to call him to testify, according to sources familiar with the case.
Warren A. Brown, Garrison's lawyer, said his client was not going to testify because of the potential danger.
"That really would have been his death knell," said Mr. Brown, speaking an hour before the scheduled start of the funeral for Garrison and his son last night. "The only way he could have done it was if they would have put him and his whole family in the witness-protection program."
Mr. Brown said authorities had, however, pressured Garrison into cooperating with investigations -- with no success.
"He was never snitching, ever," Mr. Brown said. "But they wanted him to because they figured he knew some players."
Authorities had nothing to offer Garrison because he expected to receive probation on the pending charges and did not expect the charges to lead to a probation violation, Mr. Brown said.
The lawyer said he does not believe the killing was drug related because the word would have been out on the street long before the deed was done.
Garrison had risen above street-level dealing as a drug distributor but had been "dormant" for the past five or six months as he sensed the federal authorities were sniffing around, the lawyer said.
Had someone wanted to kill Garrison because of his involvement in drugs, Mr. Brown said, "He would have been dead long before now."