Killer tells of 'wicked' lifestyle Member of drug gang testifies in Jones trial

October 31, 1997|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

Sitting in front of a Chinese-made MAK-90 assault rifle, a member of a notorious East Baltimore drug ring testified yesterday that his group became so murderous that he and two other enforcers patrolled the streets with orders to kill enemies on sight.

Dartania "Darty" Norton, 24, identified the assault rifle -- tagged as evidence and placed unloaded in front of him on the witness stand -- as one of the weapons he and the other men carried while hunting down the rivals of suspected kingpin Anthony Ayeni Jones.

"My past is very, very wicked," Norton told the jury yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, where nine of Jones' accused lieutenants are on trial. "In the course of my wicked past, two people died."

Norton, awaiting sentencing and wearing a rosary around his neck, testified as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, who describe the Jones ring as one of the most violent in Baltimore history. More than a dozen people were killed in the ring's eight-year reign as supplier of millions of dollars worth of cocaine and heroin, authorities said.

Prosecutors Jamie M. Bennett and Robert R. Harding say Jones became so obsessed with killing his archrival and competing drug kingpin, Elway Williams, that he enlisted the help of henchmen such as Norton to kill Williams and many of those linked to him.

"Basically, we tried to hunt them down," Norton said, speaking of three men nicknamed "Walli," "Red Dog" and "Keedy," whom Jones is accused of targeting for execution in fall 1995.

Norton, who pleaded guilty to narcotics conspiracy and could face life in prison, described the shadowy world of drug dealing and the constantly changing loyalties of those working in the city's numerous rings.

His testimony backs up others who have testified in the giant conspiracy trial, with many saying that lieutenants in drug organizations often switch from one faction to another as they try to rise in stature.

"I was trying to establish my own grounds," Norton told the jury, describing how he bought "half-kilos" of cocaine and distributed them near Preston and Bond streets. He also sold cocaine for Jones -- being paid, he said, between $1,000 and $1,200 a week -- and for another drug dealer he knew as Jack Steel.

Steel was the street name of Nathaniel J. Dawson Jr., a drug kingpin from New York who in the early 1990s ran a thriving cocaine and heroin market at Oliver and Regester streets in East Baltimore. His lieutenants in November 1993 fatally wounded a 10-year-old boy, Tauris Johnson, during a shootout, and Dawson is serving four federal life sentences.

In Baltimore's drug world, friends became enemies fast -- and vice versa, Norton testified.

As an example, he told of how Walli, Red Dog and Keedy -- whose real names are Alan Chapman, Warren Hill and Mark Coles, respectively -- became tired of being hunted by Norton and others. So they asked for a truce and a meeting with Jones.

Prosecutors say Chapman, Hill and Coles were working for Williams' $15,000-a-day heroin and cocaine ring at the time. In a meeting at the home of Chapman's grandmother, Jones told them he would cancel the contracts he had put out on their lives -- if they did him a favor.

"Anthony told them, 'You're going to have to kill Elway in order for us to stop hunting you down,' " Norton testified. "He said, 'Get Elway. Or we'll hunt you all down."

In February 1996, prosecutors allege, the men turned on Williams and shot him in an alley off Biddle Street. Although Williams survived with three bullet wounds, his bodyguard, Derrick Rivers, was killed in the attack.

Coles pleaded guilty and has testified that he shot Williams. Hill and Chapman are among those on trial.

In his testimony, Norton spoke plainly and calmly about his life as an up-and-coming drug lieutenant, and about how killing was part of his business. He had met Jones in 1989, when the two were classmates at Lake Clifton High School.

"I sold drugs hand-to-hand for him until I could get a higher position," Norton said. "Then I became a lieutenant in my own shop." A shop is street slang for a home where drugs are sold.

Norton demonstrated for the jury how the assault rifle could be carried out of sight, under a jacket. He described killing a man he knew only as Black Jessie, a contract hit for which he said he was paid $5,000.

He also said he was paid "$2,500 to $3,000" for killing a woman named Tina.

"I don't remember how many bullets I fired," he said in response to an attorney's question.

Pub Date: 10/31/97

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