2nd suspect in Prothero killing guilty

Defendant's key role in robbery that led to shooting described

Evidence is `overwhelming'

Taking part in crime enough to warrant murder conviction

September 13, 2000|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

The second suspect to be tried in the slaying of Baltimore County police Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero was convicted yesterday of first-degree felony murder by a Circuit Court jury that heard a single day of testimony and deliberated just 90 minutes.

Troy White, 25, showed no emotion as the verdict was announced to a Baltimore County courtroom packed with Prothero's relatives and friends. The victim's family later expressed relief.

"Troy orchestrated that robbery," Ann Prothero, the officer's widow, said after the verdict was announced. "He was every bit a part of Bruce's murder as the Moore brothers and Donald White."

White also was convicted of two counts of armed robbery, first-degree assault and a handgun violation. Prosecutors say they will seek a sentence of life without parole when he is sentenced Nov. 14 by Judge John G. Turnbull II.

"This one's over, but we still have a long way to go," said Earl Prothero, the officer's father.

Donald Antonio White, 19, no relation to Troy White, was convicted Aug. 24 of first-degree felony murder by a jury that deliberated about an hour after hearing much of the same testimony. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Barbara Kerr Howe Sept. 20. Trials for co-defendants Richard Antonio Moore and John Wesley Moore are pending.

Prosecutors said the cases against Troy and Donald White were similar, because both admitted to participating in the robbery that left Prothero dead, which under state law makes them guilty of felony murder.

"They both confessed to felony murder," said Assistant State's Attorney S. Ann Brobst.

But prosecutors said Troy White played a central role in the robbery, which netted $438,000 worth of watches. It was White, they said, who bought the two getaway cars, cased J. Brown Jewelers in Pikesville days before the robbery, recruited Donald White and purchased one of the mallets used to smash jewelry cases inside the store.

Prothero, 35, who was working part time as a security guard at the store, was shot three times as he chased four men from the store after the robbery.

In closing arguments yesterday, defense attorney Mark Van Bavel tried to convince jurors that the shooting was a separate crime from the robbery and occurred after White left the scene.

Troy White didn't carry a gun that day and was driving off with Donald Antonio White when Prothero was shot, he said.

"They were gone. They were history. This was an act outside of the original robbery," Van Bavel said. "It's a separate act that one person, and one person alone is responsible for."

But prosecutors used eight witnesses and dozens of store security camera photos to show that White took part in the robbery and was escaping when Prothero was shot - a role that they said requires a felony murder conviction.

Assistant State's Attorney Stephen Bailey emphasized the horrifying nature of the crime by showing jurors a photo that showed a man identified as Richard Antonio Moore - who police say shot Prothero - holding the victim in a chokehold.

"I'm sure those were a couple of the most terrifying minutes of his life," Bailey told jurors as Ann Prothero sobbed quietly a few rows behind him.

Jurors heard testimony from the police detective who took Troy White's confession and the auto dealer who sold him the getaway cars. They also saw photos of White grabbing jewelry in the store and heard a store manager testify that White came into the store about a week before the robbery, pretending to be a customer.

"He has neither the law on his side, nor the facts, because the evidence is so overwhelming," Brobst told jurors.

The trial for co-defendant Wesley John Moore is scheduled for Jan. 22 in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

His brother, Richard Antonio Moore, who as the alleged shooter faces a possible death sentence if convicted, is scheduled to be tried in Harford County Circuit Court. No trial date has been set.

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