A Severn man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Anne Arundel Circuit Court yesterday for shooting an acquaintance during a drug dispute in Pioneer City.
Dexter Tyrone Brown, 18, of the 1800 block of Arwell Court could be given up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced March 13 by Judge Pamela L. North.
Brown shot Delarno Darden, 22, of Seat Pleasant in the back of the neck about 1: 45 a.m. June 6.
The dispute began when Brown approached Darden, who asked Brown if he wanted to buy drugs. Brown said he didn't, and Darden threatened Brown with a realistic-looking toy gun, Assistant State's Attorney Thomas Pryal said.
Pryal said Brown retrieved a .380 semiautomatic handgun from a nearby hiding place, exchanged words with Darden and shot him.
Brown ran into his house, where police found him lying in bed, the handgun tucked underneath his pillow.
Brown initially was charged with first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence.
Pryal said he accepted the second-degree murder plea because Brown's lawyer could have argued at trial that his client had reason to fear for his life because Darden had brandished a pistol just before he was shot.
He said that Darden was known to carry a gun in Pioneer City, and that police found a realistic-looking toy pistol at the scene.
"It looked like a real gun, I have to give him that," Pryal said.
State sentencing guidelines call for a term of 18 to 30 years, Pryal said.
Assistant Public Defender John Gunning, Brown's lawyer, said he will ask for a term of less than 20 years.
He said he intends to show that Brown had successfully completed a number of drug treatment programs in Baltimore, but that he began taking drugs -- mostly PCP -- after he left the programs.
Gunning said he did not know where Brown -- who was 17 at the time of the shooting -- acquired the handgun.
He noted that guns are fairly common in the Pioneer City neighborhood where the shooting occurred.
"It's more a question of the environment than anything else," he said.
Pub Date: 1/16/97