Baltimore man gets 50 years in slaying

April 24, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

Around his Mondawmin neighborhood in West Baltimore, he was called "Poison."

Ironically, that nickname enabled Harford County Sheriff's Office detectives to unravel a 1991 drug-turf murder in Perryman and locate the getaway car's driver in the Baltimore City jail.

Kevin Lamont Sanders, 22, was sentenced to 50 years in prison Thursday in Circuit Court for his role in the Dec. 30, 1991, shooting that left a 19-year-old Havre de Grace man dead and a 23-year-old Baltimore man wounded.

A jury of seven men and five women convicted Sanders in January.

Judge Cypert O. Whitfill recommended that Sanders serve his sentence at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup where inmates receive mental health counseling and treatment.

The judge imposed a 30-year sentence for second-degree murder and a consecutive 20-year sentence for the commission of a felony with a handgun. He made a three-year sentence for transporting a handgun concurrent with the second count.

According to testimony and court records, the dispute that led to the shooting was the result of a disagreement between drug dealers from Philadelphia, Havre de Grace and Baltimore.

Sanders drove his friends, "the Baltimore boys," to Perryman, where they argued with one of the victims, John Wesley Johnson III, of Havre de Grace.

The men left and drove around the block, returning to the 200 block of Perrywood Court in the Perrywood Garden Apartments.

Prosecutor Mark Nelson told the jury that no one knew who the shooter was but that Sanders drove the car from which the gunman emerged and fired a .38-caliber handgun, wounding Mr. Johnson in the head and Shawn Odell Thompson, an acquaintance of Mr. Johnson's from Baltimore, in the back.

Mr. Johnson died at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore five days later.

Mr. Thompson, who was treated at Shock Trauma and released, testified that he saw a man get out of the car and raise his hand.

"I didn't see a gun, but I knew he had one, so I turned and ran," Mr. Thompson said.

He said he heard only one shot, the one that struck him.

No one else has been charged in the shooting, but investigators said they tracked down Sanders in the Baltimore jail through witnesses' description of his car and his nickname, "Poison."

Sanders was in jail on an unrelated attempted murder charge, Mr. Nelson said.

Sanders also has a New York conviction for reckless endangerment in 1987. He served four months in a New York jail for that crime, Mr. Nelson said.

Judge Whitfill told Sanders that he had no problem believing that Sanders was the leader of the group of men he drove to Harford County.

"Considering your past [criminal record], our society will continue to have problems with people like you [as long as] your type are loose, free to commit violent crimes," the judge said.

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