Boy, 16, gets 25 years in killing

Ex-high school wrestler fatally shot on mall lot

Drug deal in Owings Mills

Teen to serve sentence in youth offender program

July 11, 2002|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A 16-year-old Northwest Baltimore youth was sentenced to 25 years yesterday after he pleaded guilty to killing a former high school wrestling standout during a botched drug deal at Owings Mills Mall in December.

Christopher Richard Williams of the 5700 block of Winner Ave. was sentenced by Baltimore County Circuit Judge J. Norris Byrnes in the fatal shooting of Kevin Garmzaban, 18, during a fight over marijuana in the mall parking lot.

Byrnes sentenced Williams to a life sentence with all but 25 years suspended after he pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder and a handgun violation in the Dec. 18 shooting.

Byrnes also agreed to a defense request that Williams serve his sentence in Patuxent Institute's youth offender program, which is designed to rehabilitate troubled youths.

"I see no point in throwing another life away," Byrnes said, rejecting a recommendation by prosecutors for a 40-year sentence.

Williams' lawyer, William R. Buie III, had asked for a sentence of life with all but 20 years suspended.

Buie said that Williams was only 15 at the time of the shooting and didn't plan to kill anyone that night. He also said that Williams' previous convictions were for assault and minor juvenile offenses.

"This is a tragedy for everyone involved," Buie said.

Williams told the court he left school in the ninth grade. He appeared shaken and tearful as he turned and apologized to Garmzaban's mother.

"I'd like to say I'm sorry to the mother, for all the pain you're going through," he said.

Susan Songy said later that she was still too shocked by her son's death to give much thought to the sentence given to Williams and the coming trial of a co-defendant.

"It's hard for me to care about what happens to these other guys, at this point," she said.

On the night of the shooting, Garmzaban was with two friends when they were approached in the mall food court shortly before 7 p.m. by Williams and Avion Richard Rodriguez, who said they wanted to buy marijuana, according to a statement of charges filed by police.

Assistant State's Attorneys Frank C. Meyer and Adam D. Lippe said Williams did not know Garmzaban and police are unsure why Williams approached him.

But Garmzaban agreed to sell Williams and Rodriguez marijuana and drove them in his car from the north side of the mall to the south side, where Williams said he kept his car and money, police said.

After they parked near the Macy's entrance, Williams pulled out a handgun and robbed Garmzaban of a small quantity of marijuana. Garmzaban, a former wrestler at Owings Mills High School, was shot after he began fighting with Williams, Lippe said.

Garmzaban was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound to the chest a short time later at Northwest Hospital Center.

Police found a key chain near the body with a bar-coded tag from a shoe store that identified Williams, Lippe said.

Garmzaban's friends also identified Williams as the shooter and after his arrest, Williams admitted that he shot Garmzaban with a .22-caliber revolver, Lippe said.

Rodriguez, 18, of the 8000 block of Woodgate Court, Baltimore, is scheduled to be tried on first-degree felony murder charges July 23, Meyer said.

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