A gang member who was part of a group accused in what authorities say was the gruesome overthrow of its leader last summer pleaded guilty yesterday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to second-degree murder.
Terms of the four-page plea agreement of Tracy C. Devilbiss, 28, one of five people accused in the killing of Mark Anthony Miller, were sealed at the defense's request. But in court, attorneys said it is conditioned upon her cooperation in related murder prosecutions that are forthcoming.
"She may be called as a witness in the case. There are issues of her security, that is the defense's concern," Assistant State's Attorney M. Virginia Miles said outside the courtroom. She said she will ask Judge Robert H. Heller to consider Devilbiss' cooperation at sentencing, but expects to request a "substantial period of incarceration."
The maximum sentence for second-degree murder is 30 years.
Devilbiss' lawyer, Lloyd E. Clinton, said only that he was doing what was best for his client.
Police and prosecutors believe malcontents in a local Glen Burnie gang calling itself the Crips plotted and killed Miller, 21, of Glen Burnie on Aug. 7 and left him in the dugout of a local ball field. His mother wept softly as Miles told Heller how police and prosecutors believe Miller was repeatedly stabbed and then beaten with a hammer by people opposed to his leadership.
Devilbiss is not believed to be among the people who struck Miller.
Authorities do not believe the Glen Burnie Crips have direct ties to the infamous Los Angeles-based gang. "I would say they are amateurish, but they've killed somebody," Miles said.
Miles said Miller portrayed himself to the gang as a high-ranking member of the Crips elsewhere, which led to a power struggle. She said Miller was using a hot knife and coat hanger to brand the backs of gang members in the kitchen of an apartment in the first block of Glen Ridge Road where the group was having a party late Aug. 6. As the party continued into the morning, there was talk that Miller "needed to be taken down," Miles said.
As he prepared to brand one woman, three men stabbed Miller. He fled toward the door, then collapsed. But he was alive, Miles said. The men ordered some of the women to clean up the blood and to put a hammer into a bag, she said.
One wanted Devilbiss to carry the bag for them, but she refused. Instead, Miles said, she walked behind them as they took Miller to the ball field around 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., watching for drops of blood.
Miles said Sean Matthew Almond, 20, of Glen Burnie is accused of striking Miller on the head with a hammer at the dugout.
The group returned to the apartment and took bloody items to a trash container by the apartment. They appear on a videotape in a nearby 7-Eleven getting soda and cigarettes soon after, she said.
Charged with first-degree murder are Almond, James T. Blake, 19, of Severna Park and Andrew Grant Handschuh, 16, of Pasadena. Miles said Tiffany L. Smoot, 16, has admitted she was an accessory after the fact but has not been sentenced.