Killer indicted on federal charges New convictions could bring death penalty

September 19, 1997|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

A former Baltimore drug lord, already serving a sentence of life without parole for a drug killing, was indicted yesterday on federal charges that could bring him the death penalty for killing a witness in the earlier case.

Donald Lee Ferebe, 22, was indicted on four counts of of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, firearms murder in the course of drug trafficking and use of firearms in connection with drug trafficking.

Haywood Carmichael, an alleged lieutenant in Ferebe's drug operations, was indicted on the same charges. The two murder-related counts may make Ferebe eligible for the federal death penalty, though the final decision on whether the government will seek that penalty will be made by Attorney General Janet Reno.

If the Justice Department decides to seek capital punishment, it would be only the second case in Maryland in which the government sought to impose the federal death penalty for drug-related murder.

The second indictment, coming on the heels of Ferebe's life-without-parole sentence in July, is a strong indication that federal prosecutors consider him a serious candidate for a death sentence.

In February, Ferebe was convicted in U.S. District Court of the 1994 drug-related murder of Richard Thomas Jr., an underling in Ferebe's drug ring.

The new indictment charges that while Ferebe was awaiting trial on that murder charge, he asked Carmichael and another associate, William Thorne, to kill Benjamin Harvey Paige, the key state witness in the Thomas case.

Three weeks before Ferebe was scheduled to go on trial, Paige, 28, was fatally shot in August 1995 in the 800 block of N. Streeper St.. The assailants also killed his cousin, Yolanda Evans, 18, who was in the line of fire.

Another bystander, Charon Peterson, was injured in the shooting.

The indictment charges that Carmichael, Thorne and a third person carried out the killings.

Prosecutors also allege that Ferebe ran a drug operation from a rowhouse at 701 N. Rose St. from January 1994 to July 1994, later moving to the vicinity of 37th Street.

Pub Date: 9/19/97

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