Two teens plead guilty in police officer's murder

January 07, 1994|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Two East Baltimore teen-agers each could be sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty yesterday to participating the murder of an off-duty city police officer last May.

Derrick N. Broadway and Clifton "Chip" Price, both 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, attempted armed robbery and use of a handgun in a crime of violence in connection with the May 26, 1993, shooting death of Baltimore police Officer Herman A. Jones Sr.

Officer Jones, 50, was killed when he stopped at a Chinese food carryout in East Baltimore after completing a 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, neither teen-ager will be sentenced to more than 30 years, the maximum, for second-degree murder and 20 years, to be served consecutively, for attempted armed robbery. For the handgun violations, each would receive a five-year, no-parole sentence to be served concurrently.

As part of the plea bargain, the teen-agers agreed to testify against 18-year-old Herbert "Squeaky" Wilson, who allegedly fired the shots. In return, prosecutors dropped felony murder charges -- which carry life sentences -- against Broadway and Price.

Mr. Wilson is scheduled to stand trial on first-degree murder and related charges Thursday. Broadway and Price are to be sentenced Feb. 24 by Judge Richard T. Rombro.

Both teen-agers stood with heads bowed as Bridget Shepherd, an assistant public defender representing Price, explained to them that Maryland law holds that those who participate in a crime such as an attempted robbery can be held responsible for the outcome, even if they didn't actually fire any shots.

Broadway, who was 16 when Officer Jones was killed, appeared to have recovered from two shots to the chest sustained when Officer Jones exchanged shots with his would-be robbers.

An autopsy showed that the officer was shot in the thigh and knee and bled to death.

In presenting a statement of facts to the court, prosecutor Mark P. Cohen began by saying the three teen-agers were drinking together in a house in East Baltimore the night of the shooting when they decided to commit a robbery. He said they obtained a .38-caliber revolver from another man and headed to a pizza carryout but found no one to rob. From there, they went to the Jung Hing Chinese Carryout in the 1500 block of N. Gay St., where they crossed paths with Officer Jones, Mr. Cohen said.

The prosecutor said Mr. Wilson announced a robbery and ordered the officer to his knees, but Officer Jones reached for his gun and the shoot-out began Mr. Wilson was shot in the thigh.

The teen-agers fled -- with his chest wounds, Broadway made it only about four blocks before collapsing -- and the revolver was given to a man with the street name "Dirty Butt Cheeks," Mr. Cohen said. That gun was later recovered, and ballistics tests linked it to the bullets taken from Officer Jones' body.

Ms. Shepherd, the defense lawyer, said that the men were not only drinking but were smoking marijuana before the botched robbery. She also said the officer's 9-mm semiautomatic service weapon, which has never been recovered, probably was stolen by "bystanders." Alexander R. Martick, a lawyer representing Broadway, said his client was not aware that the victim, who was wearing a windbreaker over his uniform, was a police officer. Mr. Martick also said Broadway at first regarded the discussed plans to go out and rob someone as "a joke." Ms. Shepherd said, "As far as I know, it was their first effort, and they just happened to hit someone who was armed."

When the events surrounding the shooting were described in court, Karen Smith, the slain officer's niece, began to dab at her tears. Later, she said, "Everybody loses. We've lost an uncle, and society has lost two more young men."

In that vein, the officer's sister, Grace Neal, said, "They get with the wrong crowd. I feel sorry for their mothers today, and I feel sorry for me because I lost my brother."

After the hearing, the officer's relatives and Broadway's mother exchanged condolences.

Broadway's mother could be heard telling the officer's relatives, "I grieve for Officer Jones and this whole situation."

Ms. Smith replied, "I know you do."

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