Accused time and again, like his uncle Itchy

Associating with Solothal Thomas has meant trouble for Karlos Williams

September 30, 2002|By John B. O'Donnell, Jim Haner and Kimberly A.C. Wilson | John B. O'Donnell, Jim Haner and Kimberly A.C. Wilson,SUN STAFF

It may not have been hero-worship, but it came close.

Over the years, Karlos Williams hung out with his uncle Solothal "Itchy Man" Thomas. He looked up to him and tried to be just like him.

That emulation would lead to tangles with the law.

Three years ago, a court psychologist wrote that most of Williams' arrests "are due to regular association" with his uncle, who "constantly gets in legal trouble." In fact, he said, Williams "envies" his uncle, who is only five years older.

In 1999, Williams told police that he was with Itchy Man when his uncle shot Ellis Johnson and 15 minutes later murdered Lewis Middleton as he talked on a street-corner pay phone.

Police charged Itchy Man, Williams and a third man with the killing, but city juries would acquit them. Prosecutors did not use Williams' confession at the trials.

Williams was two months shy of his 18th birthday when those crimes occurred, and his lawyer asked that he be tried in Juvenile Court.

That request triggered an evaluation of Williams by Circuit Court psychologist Jay I. Levinson, who wrote about the close relationship between uncle and nephew.

Levinson wrote a report that called Williams "a significant risk to public safety." It said he suffered from a personality disorder, seemed "quite streetwise ... uses a lot of denial and seems to have no respect for the justice system."

Williams had been removed from his mother's home at 13 because of neglect, Levinson said, and had dropped out of the ninth grade when he was arrested. Levinson wrote that Williams could barely read at a fifth-grade level, had no job and lived with a grandmother who supported him.

14 arrests as juvenile

He said Williams had been arrested 14 times as a juvenile but had only one conviction, for auto theft.

His first conviction in criminal court came in January 1998, when he and Itchy Man pleaded guilty in the beating of Raymond Fortune.

Fortune told police that Itchy Man robbed him at gunpoint of his sweat suit, his Timberland boots and a gold chain in 1996. Fortune then heard Itchy Man say the gun wasn't loaded and started a fight.

At that, Williams, who was 15 at the time, picked up a ceiling fan and whacked Fortune in the head, Officer James Schuler wrote.

Itchy Man "grabbed a baseball bat and he and Karlos beat and kicked Mr. Fortune until he was unconscious," Schuler added.

"Injuries to the victim included: 3 teeth knocked out, a broken jaw, left eye knocked out of socket, bottom lip had to be sewn back and multiple facial lacerations."

Judge Carol E. Smith sentenced Williams to 10 years in prison, with 8 1/2 years suspended, and three years' probation.

In October 2000, after his acquittal in the Middleton and Johnson shootings, Williams was brought back before Judge Smith on a charge that he had violated his probation in the Fortune case. Williams' lawyer told Smith that her client, then 19, had a 2-year-old son and had a 4-year-old daughter who had died two months earlier. "He tells me that she was poisoned," said Kim Connaughton, the lawyer.

Williams begged Smith not to send him to prison to serve the full 10-year term.

"I know I violated your probation," he told Smith.

"Your honor, I'm done with this. I ask for another chance. I'm done with this court stuff. I'm done with this breaking the law. I put my hands up with it. I'm done with it. I just ask for another chance."

Smith dropped the charge, freeing Williams.

"I hope he wised up," the judge muttered in a comment picked up by the video recording equipment.

Williams' pledge to Smith lasted less than a year.

On Labor Day 2001, he and another man were arrested in a house in the 2600 block of Guilford Ave. and charged with terrorizing its residents. Williams was held on $500,000 bail and eventually charged with two other home invasions and a robbery and shooting.

In July, a city jury convicted Williams and the co-defendant, Victor Fletcher, of six counts of assault, six counts of false imprisonment and one count of burglary for the Guilford Avenue home invasion. They are to be sentenced Nov. 20.

Three trials ahead

Williams is also scheduled for trials in the city and in Towson next month for two other home invasions and for a robbery and shooting. Those charges involve:

An April 26, 2001, home invasion in the Seton Hill neighborhood of Baltimore. Police said an armed man seized a child playing outside, took her into the house and confronted the father and mother, who was nine months pregnant. The father turned over $1,800 after the gunman threatened to kill everyone. The gunman then bound all three with duct tape and left.

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