Man sentenced to life term in killing He was hit man for drug organization

March 07, 1998|By Dan Odenwald | Dan Odenwald,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

A man described as a hit man for a murderous East Baltimore drug organization was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for killing a rival drug dealer who was shot a dozen times by executioners wearing the masks of U.S. presidents.

Darnell "Mookie" Jones, 21, became the first of nine defendants to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Baltimore for a giant narcotics conspiracy that prosecutors say was responsible for more than a dozen killings.

"This is just the beginning," said U.S. Assistant Attorney Jamie M. Bennett, who tried the case along with Robert R. Harding. "In April, we'll be seeking the death penalty against ring leader Anthony Jones."

Darnell Jones was convicted of murdering Keith "Shugg" Westmoreland in October 1994, when he and Anthony Jones, his cousin, burst into Westmoreland's apartment and repeatedly shot him, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said the men were wearing the masks of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

Jones was charged with three other killings between December 1994 and April 1995, but the charges were dropped by local prosecutors. He was convicted of conspiring to sell drugs in 1991 and of handgun possession in 1993.

Arcangelo M. Tuminelli, Jones' lawyer, said Jones was brought up in a culture of drugs and murder and was scarred when his mother and brother were killed during his formative years.

Prosecutors argued that Jones showed no remorse over the killing and has denied involvement in it from the beginning.

Court officials said Jones will be transferred to a federal prison within two weeks.

The organization is considered to be one of the most violent in city history. During the three-month trial, prosecutors said the gang killed numerous rivals, set fire to a man, threw out a body in a trash barrel, put a city police officer on its payroll and carted millions of dollars worth of cocaine in secret compartments of cars.

Pub Date: 3/07/98

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