4 arraigned in killing of Glen Burnie pharmacist

Insufficient evidence for death penalty

October 31, 2001|By Sarah Koenig | Sarah Koenig,SUN STAFF

The young Baltimore men charged with carjacking and killing 26-year-old Yvette A. Beakes, a Glen Burnie pharmacist and victim of one of the city's most shocking crimes this year, will not face the death penalty, prosecutors said yesterday.

The four defendants - three of them teen-agers - were arraigned yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court, where they pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, carjacking, kidnapping and handgun crimes. A trial was scheduled for Feb. 8.

Prosecutor Sharon Holback announced that she would seek a sentence of life in prison without parole for the oldest suspect, Jamal D. Barnes, 23, of the 4300 block of Seminole Ave.

Holback did not say what sentences she would seek for the others. Two defendants, Brian Wilson, 15, of the 2600 block of Garrett Ave. and Larry Walker, 16, of the 2200 block of Homewood Ave., are not eligible for the death penalty because they are minors. The fourth defendant is Brian McMillan, 18, of the 2500 block of Garrett Ave.

Although a killing during a carjacking is a capital offense, Deputy State's Attorney Haven H. Kodeck said the state's case is not strong enough to support a death sentence.

Under the law, the state would need independently corroborated evidence of who shot Beakes - not just incriminating statements by co-defendants, for example. But the state has no independent witnesses to Beakes' killing, Kodeck said.

Kodeck did not confirm comments by Walker's attorney that Barnes was the alleged shooter and mastermind of the crimes. "I don't want to say he is. There's some evidence that he may be," Kodeck said.

Beakes' family, boyfriend and co-workers attended the arraignment. As she listened to a court clerk read the charges, Beakes' mother wept quietly. Afterwards, the group met for hours with prosecutors to talk about the case.

Kenneth Shipley, Beakes' boyfriend with whom she lived in Glen Burnie, said neither he nor her family would comment. "We're just going to let things unfold," he said.

Beakes graduated from the University of Maryland pharmacy school last year. Her employer, Kmart Corp., is planning to announce today a $25,000 scholarship in her name that will be awarded annually to needy pharmacy school students.

Barnes and the three teen-agers allegedly followed Beakes as she drove home from a bar near Camden Yards on Aug. 8. The defendants are accused of ramming their van into her car, a 2001 Acura, as she neared her home in the 6500 block of Fable Court, kidnapping her at gunpoint and driving her around Baltimore to various ATMs, where $500 was withdrawn from her account.

Beakes was taken to Southwest Baltimore, where, prosecutors say, one of the defendants shot her in the back of the head.

In the aftermath of the four arrests, two Anne Arundel County 911 operators were fired for failing to pass on to police officers information about the crime that might have saved Beakes' life.

Attorneys for the younger defendants said prosecutors were trying to get their clients to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for testifying against Barnes. However, the lawyers said they would fight the charges.

Walker's attorney, Margaret Mead, said she planned to have him evaluated for psychiatric problems in an effort to have him designated not criminally responsible. "He has a history of mental health issues," she said, describing him as "not a bad kid" who is easily influenced by others.

Timothy Fitts, the lawyer representing McMillan, said that of the four defendants, his client was the least culpable.

"He was taken home before the murder took place," Fitts said. Police reports say McMillan was not in the car when Beakes was killed, but that he supplied the gun, and was given money stolen from her account.

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