Man given 40 years in East Baltimore slaying Sentence may be reduced if accomplices are named

July 24, 1996|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

A 23-year-old East Baltimore man was sentenced to more than 40 years in federal prison yesterday for arranging a 1994 murder that prosecutors said another man might have been wrongly convicted of committing.

Demetrius Bernard Smith received a 500-month sentence for arranging the murder of Oscar E. Lewis, who was fatally shot by two gunmen as he sat in a car stopped at an East Baltimore intersection.

Smith has admitted that he drove the car and arranged the killing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert R. Harding told U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg in Baltimore that although Smith admitted his role in the slaying, he has refused to disclose the names of his accomplices.

Antoine James Pettiford, who was convicted of first-degree murder in June 1995 in Baltimore Circuit Court in the Lewis shooting, might not have been involved, Harding said.

Also, federal prosecutors are unable to press a case against another man they believe was one of the gunmen who shot Lewis, and they "feel that if Mr. Smith were to cooperate, we would have enough evidence to prosecute," Harding said.

"There is a lot more justice that could be done in this case that cannot be done because of Mr. Smith's refusal to help," Harding said.

According to court records, Smith, who sold heroin in East Baltimore, arranged Lewis' shooting on April 30, 1994, to impress a heroin dealer from New York.

Smith was seeking to establish a supply of drugs from New York.

Legg told Smith that he has a year to change his mind and cooperate with prosecutors.

If he does, his sentence could be reduced.

Pub Date: 7/24/96

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