Two teen-agers accused in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old DeShawn Anthony Wallace during a botched robbery in Columbia's Oakland Mills village this year were indicted yesterday on murder and armed robbery charges.
A Howard County grand jury returned indictments on charges of first-degree murder, armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, felony assault and handgun use against Jonas L. Askins, 18, of no fixed address, and Robert L. Burgess, 18, of the 5700 block of Yellow Rose Court. Burgess was also charged as an accessory after the fact.
The two men were arrested in May after confidential informants and the mother of a third defendant's child identified them, according to testimony during a preliminary hearing last month. The woman also described their alleged roles in the crime to investigators, according to the testimony.
Police allege that the third defendant, Tavon Donya Sands, 21, who was arrested a few days after the Jan. 25 killing, was the gunman. Sands, who was indicted in March, is scheduled to go to trial in the case Aug. 26.
The three men are accused of confronting Wallace, his 19-year-old brother and three others on a parking lot in the 5800 block of Stevens Forest Road and ordering them to the ground, according to court papers and testimony.
When Wallace, a 1996 Oakland Mills High School graduate studying information technology at Lincoln Technical Institute, walked away, one of the men shot him in the head.
Although the faces of all three suspects were partly covered during the robbery attempt, witnesses identified Sands, who has distinctive green eyes, as the gunman, according to previous court testimony.
Eyewitnesses could not identify the other two men involved.
Burgess and Askins were arrested after Joy Martinez, the mother of one of Sands' children, told authorities that two of the three men described the killing to her and that she was with the defendants in the hours and day after the killing when they disposed of clothing and retrieved the guns authorities believe were used in the incident, according to testimony at the June hearing.
Sands, who had been released from the Howard County Detention Center a few days before the shooting, was facing multiple charges in a series of Howard County cases at the time of the incident.
He has since been convicted of armed robbery, felony assault and conspiracy in one case. Other cases involving attempted murder and gun and drug charges are pending.