Man gets 20 years in plot to kill judge

Cellmate recorded Denicolis planning death

January 29, 2002|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A 21-year-old Kingsville man was sentenced to 20 years in prison last night for trying to plot the killing of a Baltimore County Circuit judge who was to sentence him for three armed robberies.

Christopher A. Denicolis was sentenced to a 20-year term consecutive to the 20 years he is serving for the robberies.

Denicolis told Judge Robert H. Heller Jr. yesterday that he never meant to harm Judge Dana M. Levitz.

He said he offered to pay a fellow inmate at the Baltimore County Detention Center $10,000 for Levitz' death in an attempt to appear tough to other inmates.

But Heller, an Anne Arundel County Circuit judge specially assigned to the case, said that police, Levitz and his family took the threat seriously.

Denicolis was convicted by a Baltimore County jury Oct. 5 on two counts of solicitation to commit murder for plotting in taped conversations to kill Levitz before the judge could sentence him.

He was convicted after prosecutors played a tape recording made by county police of Denicolis discussing the plot with his cellmate, Kenneth Moroz, in the detention center.

County police discovered the plot in December 2000 when a detective served a warrant on Moroz for credit card fraud and Moroz volunteered that "there was a guy who asked him to do a murder." Moroz agreed to tape future conversations with Denicolis.

Denicolis wanted to have Levitz killed because the judge was scheduled to sentence him for three robberies, including a home invasion in Monkton in which a dog was killed with an aluminum baseball bat, Assistant State's Attorney S. Ann Brobst said.

Levitz had previously sentenced two co-defendants in the home-invasion robbery to 20-year maximum sentences, according to court records.

Levitz recused himself from sentencing Denicolis after police charged him with threatening the judge. In February, Circuit Judge J. William Hinkel sentenced Denicolis to 20 years for the robberies.

Brobst said Denicolis initially also wanted to have Mickey Norman, the prosecutor in the robbery cases, killed for $5,000. He later dropped the plan, she said.

Mark Van Bavel, Denicolis' lawyer, told Heller yesterday that most murder-solicitation cases involve defendants who arrange to meet with undercover police officers or take "active steps" toward carrying out the killing.

But he said Denicolis was charged based solely on the taped conversations.

"This is the barest type of murder solicitation imaginable," Van Bavel said.

But Brobst said a stiff sentence is necessary for police, prosecutors and judges to live without fear of future threats.

"This kind of thing attacks the very fabric of our criminal justice system," Brobst said.

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