`I'm not gonna admit to nothing I didn't do'

November 06, 2001|By Dan Rodricks

`I'm not gonna admit to nothing I didn't do'

He pleaded guilty to three murders and a federal judge sentenced him to life in prison. But, 12 years later, Reggie Gross says he's innocent. "I didn't pull no triggers on no body," he said in an interview with The Sun.

The former heavyweight boxer, who was accused of being a brutal enforcer for a West Baltimore drug gang, says he pleaded guilty because he believed his admission would lead to a lighter sentence than the two consecutive life terms imposed by a federal judge.

But Howard Gersh and Charles Scheeler, the attorneys who prosecuted members of the now-defunct Boardley gang in 1989, say the evidence against Gross was substantial, particularly because some of its members had become witnesses for the government.

Court records show that:

Had the case gone to trial, a witness named Richard "Ivory" Williams was prepared to testify that he had discussed, with Gross and gang leader Warren Boardley, the contract murder of a rival, Andre Coxson. Williams said he witnessed Gross gun down Coxson on Sept. 12, 1986.

A key witness, Larry Donnell "Donnie" Andrews, said he heard Gross and another enforcer discuss a $25,000 fee for the Coxson killing. Of that, he said, Gross received $3,000.

Andrews admitted to the August 1986 shooting of Boardley's rival, Spencer Downer, at a bus stop in West Baltimore. He said he used a .38-caliber handgun provided by Gross, and that Gross paid him $1,000 for the hit.

Andrews admitted to teaming with Gross for the fatal, close-range shootings of Rodney "Touche" Young and Zachary Roach on Gold Street in West Baltimore early on Sept. 23, 1986. Andrews said Gross and Boardley gave him $2,000 for the double hit.

In an interview, Gross said he admitted to the killings on the advice of attorneys and because of pressure from confederates. Deals were being cut among gang members. Through the grapevine, Gross said, he heard threats.

"There was talk that if I didn't take the deal, kids would be hurt, killed," Gross said. " `If anyone hurts this plea agreement, man, we gonna kill babies, wives and mothers.' I was the only one who had babies."

Gross had three daughters by then, his youngest just an infant. "My family can't defend itself," he said.

Since he has been incarcerated, Gross has twice met with federal parole officials. Each time, he's been forced to confront his great contradiction: His guilty plea to crimes he says he didn't commit and his lack of effort to get the case reopened.

"They want me to admit it," Gross said. "I'm not gonna admit to nothing I didn't do. I was young and, I guess, easily influenced or I wanted to make an impression to show people that I was tough. If I knew then what I knew now, I wouldn't be in this."

He declined to attend his last hearing, in April. "They talk too mean to me and I can't say nothing back. They talk mean and nasty, like they want me to blow."

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