Man sentenced to 35 years in Balto. Co. home invasion

He was acquitted in past of attempted murder, murder by city juries

October 05, 2002|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,SUN STAFF

A 21-year-old man who was acquitted of murder and attempted murder by city juries two years ago received a 35-year sentence in Baltimore County yesterday after his conviction in one of three armed home invasions for which he has been charged.

Karlos Williams, 21, who was featured Monday in "Justice Undone," The Sun's series on murder cases in Baltimore, said nothing as Circuit Judge Vicki Ballou-Watts handed down the sentence.

Ballou-Watts said she was "particularly offended" that Williams had made a 7-year-old boy a victim in the August 2001 home invasion in the Baltimore Highlands area of the county. At one point, she noted, Williams made the boy stand and face a wall -- "in execution-style position," as the prosecutor put it.

She recalled the boy's testimony at Williams' trial, saying, "Although he bravely identified the defendant as the person who pointed a gun at him, I noticed throughout his testimony that he seemed afraid to look at the defendant."

Prosecutor Robert J. Tully asked Ballou-Watts to give Williams a 50-year sentence, saying, "He has led a full criminal life up to this point."

Records show that Williams has had frequent contact with the criminal justice system, including 14 arrests as a juvenile, and that he has usually managed to avoid conviction. He once attributed his problems with the law to close association with his uncle, Solothal "Itchy Man" Thomas, who is 26. Thomas, who also was featured in The Sun series, has a long arrest record in the city that includes 12 attempted-murder charges and two murder charges.

Thomas' only conviction came in a January 1998 plea deal that flushed away many charges and netted him a 2 1/2 -year sentence. In two murder cases and two attempted-murder cases, city juries acquitted him.

He was scheduled for trial this week on charges of attempted murder and illegal possession of a bulletproof vest, but the cases were postponed until January.

Williams had an attempted- murder charge dropped in the city in January 1998 as part of a plea deal where he received an 18-month sentence and three years' probation for assault in a brutal beating in which he and Thomas took part.

In the spring of 2000, Williams was tried in city Criminal Court for murder and attempted murder along with Thomas and a third man.

The two crimes occurred within 15 minutes of each other in December 1998.

A month later, Williams was arrested with the semi-automatic handgun used in both crimes, and he gave detectives a confession that named Thomas as the shooter.

Prosecutors decided not to use the confession out of concern that Williams would recant when he was put on the witness stand. All three defendants were acquitted.

In October 2000, Williams was brought to court on a charge of violating his probation.

He persuaded a judge not to send him to prison, vowing, "I'm done with this breaking the law."

Since then, he has been charged with the Baltimore Highlands home invasion, two home invasions in the city in and an attempted murder in a robbery and shooting in the Woodlawn area of Baltimore County.

He was convicted in city court in July of six counts of assault, six counts of false imprisonment and one count of burglary in a home invasion that occurred in September 2001.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 20.

Williams is scheduled for two more trials this month -- one for the second city home invasion and one in the county on the attempted murder charge.

The 35-year sentence that he received yesterday resulted from his Sept. 20 conviction on two counts of assault and one count of burglary in the Baltimore Highlands home invasion.

Evidence showed that Williams and an accomplice who has never been identified were armed with handguns, entered a house and confronted a woman talking on the telephone.

Williams then sent his accomplice outside to bring the woman's 7-year old son, who was playing, into the house.

The woman was pistol-whipped and both victims were bound with duct tape.

After searching the house, Williams and his accomplice left, threatening to return and kill her son if she reported the crime.

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