Final sentence given in Prothero case

Fourth defendant gets life without parole in killing of officer

June 09, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Baltimore Sun reporter

The final defendant to be sentenced in the killing of Baltimore County police Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero was given life without the possibility of parole yesterday by a judge who compared the crime to a "Wild West" shootout.

Wesley Moore, 25, showed no emotion as Baltimore County Circuit Judge James T. Smith Jr. sentenced him, but the victim's widow sobbed quietly during the hearing.

"You committed an act like something out of the Wild West, and you didn't even realize how outrageous it was," Smith said. "That makes you a very dangerous person."

Prothero, 35, was shot three times Feb. 7, 2000, as he chased four men out of J. Brown Jewelers on Reisterstown Road during a robbery at the store, where he was working a second job as a security guard.

After yesterday's sentencing, Prothero's widow, Ann Prothero, said she is trying to cope with the loss of her husband and to do her best to raise their five children.

"I have five children, and I do what I can to take care of them," she said.

Moore declined to comment yesterday.

Prothero's family thanked prosecutors and expressed relief that Moore's no-parole life sentence means that all four defendants convicted in the killing will spend their lives behind bars.

Moore was convicted of felony murder April 2 based on testimony that he and his half-brother, Richard Antonio Moore, held clerks and customers at gunpoint while two accomplices smashed jewelry cases. The four men fled with more than $400,000 worth of watches, according to testimony.

Donald Antonio White Jr., 19, and Troy White, 23, both of Baltimore, each were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole last fall after they were convicted by separate juries of felony murder.

Richard Moore, 30, of Baltimore, was charged as the shooter and avoided a possible death sentence April 30 by pleading guilty to felony murder in exchange for a sentence of life without parole.

Paul DeWolfe, Wesley Moore's lawyer, had asked Smith for a sentence that would give Moore the chance of parole.

DeWolfe said that Moore has converted to Islam in jail, considers himself a father figure to his four children and talks to them almost every day on the telephone.

He also emphasized that a few years ago, Moore participated in an eight-month Job Corps program that taught him construction skills and that he led a crime-free life from 1997 until a few weeks before the killing.

But Assistant State's Attorney S. Ann Brobst told Smith yesterday that as a participant in the murder, Moore caused "immeasurable" pain. "The victim impact [statement] shows this murder caused a pain so immeasurable, not only in the lives of his family members, but in the community as a whole," Brobst said.

Moments after the hearing, Detective Philip Marll, the lead investigator on the case, arrested Wesley Moore's girlfriend, Parcha McFadden, took her out of the courtroom in handcuffs and charged her with perjury for her testimony during Moore's trial.

McFadden, 24, of the 1100 block of W. Saratoga St. in Baltimore, was being held last night at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $50,000 bail.

Brobst said that McFadden testified before a grand jury that a necklace found at the scene belonged to Wesley Moore and was given to him by her brother. But she recanted at Moore's trial, testifying that she had been pressured by police to say the necklace belonged to Moore.

McFadden's testimony didn't damage the state's case. Jurors were told that McFadden was Moore's girlfriend and a police technician testified that he found Moore's skin cells on the necklace.

After the hearing yesterday, Brobst also prosecuted Moore for violating terms of a 1996 probation by committing the murder.

Court records show that county Circuit Judge J. Norris Byrnes sentenced Moore to four years' supervised probation Sept. 19, 1996, after he was convicted of distribution of cocaine for selling a $20 bag of crack cocaine on Tidewater Lane in Chase.

Yesterday, Byrnes sentenced Moore to a concurrent five-year term for violating the law while on probation.

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