Man sentenced to life in prison for ride-by, retaliatory shooting Westside resident fired fatal shots from bicycle

July 22, 1998|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A 24-year-old West Baltimore man -- who rode his bicycle alongside an acquaintance's car and killed him by firing two bullets into his head in what prosecutors called retaliation for a previous shooting -- was sentenced yesterday to life in prison.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Gary I. Strausberg also sentenced Acheme N. Witherspoon to a concurrent term of 15 years for using a handgun in the commission of a violent crime for the the slaying of Dante Giles, in the early hours of a July morning two years ago.

"The killing you committed was a brutal, execution-style murder," Strausberg told Witherspoon during the sentencing hearing yesterday.

Kenneth W. Ravenell, Witherspoon's lawyer, said yesterday that he continued to believe in his client's innocence.

Ravenell said that he was "convinced that numerous errors were committed by the court during the trial," including allowing a prosecutor to suggest that Witherspoon had threatened a state's witness.

Witherspoon intends to "proceed with his appellate rights as soon as possible," Ravenell said.

During the sentencing, Strausberg noted that Witherspoon, of the 900 block of Pennsylvania Ave., was part of the "world of drugs" and had a "long record of arrests and charges," most of which were dropped or never prosecuted.

But the judge added, "I need not and will not consider that record."

In May, a Circuit Court jury found Witherspoon guilty of first-degree murder after a nearly two-week trial.

Prosecutors said during the trial that Witherspoon shot Giles after an altercation two months earlier in which Giles shot Witherspoon in the foot.

Giles, who was 19 at the time of his murder, lived in the 2200 block of Orem Ave.

Giles was driving his car in the 200 block of N. Paca St. in West Baltimore shortly after 2 a.m. on July 8, 1996, when Witherspoon pulled up alongside him on a bicycle and shot him twice in the head and once in the shoulder, according to court records.

During yesterday's sentencing hearing, Strausberg praised two witnesses who testified for the prosecution: a California man visiting Baltimore who happened to witness the crime and identified Witherspoon, and a Baltimore woman who helped raise Witherspoon and to whom Witherspoon told details of the crime.

"It was only because of [these] witnesses that the evidence of what you did came to light," Strausberg told Witherspoon before imposing the sentence.

Pub Date: 7/22/98

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