A Baltimore County Circuit Court jury convicted a 33-year-old Randallstown musician of second-degree murder yesterday, a day after a circuit judge acquitted a co-defendant charged as an accomplice in the crime.
Raymond Molden, who also was convicted of a handgun violation, could be given up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced in the next few months by Judge John F. Fader II.
Wayne A. Zakes Jr., 26, of Essex was acquitted by Fader Monday after a four-day trial in which Molden's case was heard by jurors and Zakes' case by Fader.
According to testimony, Donnell Williams, 28, was shot four times in the back of the head about 11:35 p.m. Aug. 17, 1999, in the parking lot of Champion Billiards Cafe & Brewery, in the Perring Plaza shopping center in the 1900 block of E. Joppa Road.
Police said they focused on Molden and Zakes after Yolanda Flagg, the victim's girlfriend, said she had seen the two men drive off with Williams in Molden's car about 35 minutes before the shooting, according to testimony.
Assistant State's Attorney Mickey Norman acknowledged that police and prosecutors knew of no motive or witnesses to the slaying.
But he presented evidence showing that Molden's gun was probably used in the shooting and that both suspects lied about their whereabouts on the night of the murder.
Zakes told police that he had dropped Williams off at a city apartment complex on Moravia Road, according to testimony.
Norman said there was no way Zakes' story could be true, given the driving time required for Williams to be at Champion's parking lot at the time of the killing.
Molden, a rap musician, told police he was in his basement music studio at the time of the murder, according to testimony.
Norman introduced Molden's cell phone records as evidence that Molden was driving around the county when he said he was home.
Detective Carroll Bollinger testified that he found a box for a 9 mm Taurus handgun, along with cartridge casings, at Molden's home. The two shell casings Bollinger found at the house were fired from the same 9 mm handgun that was used in the murder, according to testimony from police.
Molden told police that the gun had been stolen from his car about two months before the murder but that he had not reported the theft to police.
Rodney Warren, Molden's attorney said he was disappointed with the jury verdict, but not surprised. The jury acquitted Molden of first-degree murder.
"We're happy that the jury didn't find sufficient evidence of premeditation" for a first-degree-murder conviction, Warren said.
Fader said Zakes probably lied to police, but that alone wasn't enough to convict him.
"That lie cannot, by the law, be converted into proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the murder," Fader said.