Cousins guilty of murder in death of Columbia teen

Jury convicts two in fatal shooting in Pasadena

12 hours of deliberations

February 08, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Two Glen Burnie men were found guilty of first-degree felony murder yesterday in the October 2000 shooting of a teen-ager in Pasadena.

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court jury deliberated for nearly 12 hours over two days before finding Gerald Carvell Wallace, 24, and Keith Lamont Mallet, 21, guilty in the shooting death of Jerome Isaiah Johnson, 18, of Columbia during an attempted robbery in Pasadena's Freetown neighborhood.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen E. Rogers said jurors were convinced by physical evidence that corroborated everything the prosecution's witness, George Scott, 24, of Annapolis, said during the trial.

"We're ecstatic," Rogers said yesterday after the verdict was read. "We're glad the victim's family has this closure."

Raised by his grandmother from the age of 5, Johnson had recently graduated from high school and was working at a mattress store. He had been throwing pebbles at his girlfriend's window the morning he was shot.

Relatives cried after the verdict was read, but declined to comment on the case afterward.

Defense lawyers declined yesterday to discuss the verdict or whether they will appeal it. During the trial, which began last week, the defense team argued that Scott, the prosecution's key witness, was the killer.

But jurors found Wallace and Mallet guilty of felony murder, attempted robbery and related charges. The cousins, who were on trial together, were found not guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and conspiracy charges.

Mallet was represented by assistant public defenders Mary Jo Livingston and Kimber Davis. Wallace was represented by attorney Louis J. Martucci.

It was the second time that Wallace was on trial in the slaying. He represented himself when he was tried alone for Johnson's murder last year. Those proceedings ended in a mistrial when jurors - after six hours of deliberations - couldn't agree on a verdict. Several jurors for that trial said they weren't convinced Scott was a credible witness.

Similar questions about Scott resurfaced in the new trial, raised by defense attorneys who pointed out that Scott has a criminal record, including a conviction for making false statements to police. Under cross-examination, Scott also testified that he had reluctantly identified Wallace and Mallet as Johnson's killers after several hours of police interrogation.

But Rogers, who prosecuted the case with Robin Rickard, presented physical evidence and other witnesses to corroborate Scott's testimony.

Scott testified Johnson was killed with a 9 mm handgun, saying that the gun discharged when Wallace hit the teen on the head with the weapon. Wallace's former girlfriend testified that he had shown her a 9 mm handgun months before the shooting, and forensic experts testified that it was the only type of gun that could have been the murder weapon.

At sentencing, which has been scheduled for April 24, Wallace and Mallet could receive life in prison without parole.

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