Annapolis man sentenced to 3 years in slaying at housing project

March 31, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

An 18-year-old Annapolis man was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court for fatally shooting a man last July in a city housing project.

Richard Sterling Crowner of the 1800 block of Bowman Court was sentenced by Judge Raymond G. Thieme after his lawyer argued that the victim had robbed Crowner twice, threatened him several times and was shot only after apparently trying to pull a gun on Crowner.

Crowner, charged with manslaughter, entered an Alford plea in the July 12 shooting death of Sylvester Green, 30, of Annapolis. An Alford plea means the defendant is not admitting guilt but acknowledges the prosecution would have sufficient evidence to win a conviction if the case were tried.

Green was found dead about 11 p.m. by police called to the 1800 block of Bowman Court. The shooting occurred just a few yards from the spot where his brother, Reno Green, 21, a star basketball center at Annapolis Senior High School, was shot to death July 8, 1989.

Assistant Public Defender Mark Blumberg said the victim had robbed Crowner the night before the killing, holding a sawed-off shotgun to Crowner's chest and demanding that he hand over $200 he was carrying. Crowner later admitted the money was from drug sales, according to court records.

It was the second time the victim had robbed Crowner in the two weeks before the shooting, Mr. Blumberg said. Green had also told Crowner, "You're dead tonight," a few hours before he was killed, Mr. Blumberg said.

Green, who had recently been released from prison on a theft conviction, walked up to Crowner as he stood near a parked car on Bowman Court and put his hands into the front of his pants as if he were drawing a handgun, Mr. Blumberg said.

Crowner pulled a handgun and fired, but turned his head away and missed. The two men chased each other before Crowner fired his second shot, hitting Green in the head.

Judge Thieme said that Green's conduct may have contributed to what occurred, but that excusing Crowner would "send the wrong message to the community."

"The victim was not, to say the least, a credit to the community. But he's got a right to live that can't be taken away from him," he said.

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