A teen-ager named by authorities as the gunman in last May's fatal shooting of an off-duty Baltimore police officer was convicted yesterday of first-degree felony murder.
A Baltimore Circuit Court jury deliberated for two hours before finding Herbert "Squeaky" Wilson of the 2100 block of E. Biddle St. guilty on all charges in the murder of Officer Herman A. Jones Sr. Officer Jones, 50, was killed in a shootout in a Chinese food carryout in East Baltimore.
Wilson, who also was convicted of using a handgun in a violent crime, attempted armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, could receive prison terms totaling life plus 40 years. He is to be sentenced March 10 by Judge Richard T. Rombro.
During closing arguments yesterday, prosecutor Mark P. Cohen motioned toward Wilson and said: "He took the life of a good man who did nothing other than stop off and get something to eat after eight hours of policing our streets and neighborhoods. [Officer Jones] did not deserve to die."
Wilson, 18, became the third East Baltimore teen-ager to be convicted in the killing. Derrick N. Broadway and Clifton "Chip" Price, both 17, could receive sentences totaling up to 50 years each in prison after pleading guilty last month to second-degree murder and other charges. The teen-agers, who fulfilled the terms of their plea agreements by testifying against Wilson, are to be sentenced Feb. 24.
Defense attorney M. Brooke Murdock argued yesterday that Broadway fired the shot that killed the officer -- after Wilson had fled the carryout. Wilson testified that he and his friends were trying to scare their victim, not rob him, leading Ms. Murdock to argue that Wilson was guilty of second-degree murder rather than the more serious first-degree murder charge.
Ms. Murdock acknowledged that Wilson obtained a .38 caliber revolver the night of the shooting; a slug taken from the officer's knee was linked by ballistic tests to that gun. But the bullet that apparently killed Officer Jones by severing an artery was not recovered, and the defense lawyer suggested Broadway used the officer's 9mm semiautomatic handgun to fire that bullet.
During the trial, Ms. Murdock presented a witness who claimed that he had shared a jail cell with Broadway and that the teen-ager had admitted killing the officer.
Mr. Cohen scoffed at the notion that the teen-agers were not out to commit a robbery. He maintained that Wilson fired the fatal shot, but added that it didn't matter who fired the shot because Wilson participated in the attempted armed robbery and was therefore guilty of felony murder.
Under Maryland law, anyone who participates in a felony in which a person is killed is guilty of first-degree murder.
After the jury announced its verdict, the officer's widow, Linda Jones, wept. Accompanied by her daughter and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Jones said, "This has been the worst two weeks of our lives. We just want to get on with our lives."