A woman described by prosecutors as "supreme queen" of a Glen Burnie gang that called itself the Crips was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison for her role in a deadly leadership struggle that led to the brutal slaying of a Glen Burnie man.
Tracy C. Devilbiss, 29, sobbed as Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Robert H. Heller told her that he wasn't sure if she was crying because she was remorseful about helping to kill Mark A. Miller or if she was just upset about the long prison term.
He told Devilbiss that she was "lost at sea," given her history of running away from home beginning at age 12. She also has a criminal history of drug use and prostitution. Devilbiss, who has a seventh-grade education, refused to work toward a high school diploma while on probation, stay in drug counseling or regularly take her psychiatric medicines.
She is the first of four adults to be sentenced in the murder. Prosecutors are seeking life without parole for two other gang members convicted in the slaying. They also are seeking 30 years for Devilbiss' boyfriend, one of the gang's leaders.
In addition, a 16-year-old girl is in juvenile custody, charged as an accessory to the crime. Another high-ranking member is serving seven years for threatening a potential witness in this case.
Heller described the Aug. 7, 2001, murder as "not only bizarre, not only senseless, but not even human."
A few weeks before his death, Miller, 21, presented himself to the local Crips - no known relation to the violent Los Angeles gang - as a high-ranking Crips out-of-towner. His moves to exert control over the Glen Burnie group irritated the group's leaders so much that they plotted to kill him, police and prosecutors said.
In the attack, which occurred during a party in a Glen Burnie apartment, Miller's throat was slit, and he was stabbed. Bleeding, Miller was dragged from the apartment to a nearby baseball field, where his head was bashed in and the claw of a hammer was dug into the base of his skull. The assailants left his body in a dugout.
Devilbiss became involved in the group about two weeks before Miller's death. She received the top female rank because, at the time, she was the girlfriend of James Blake, one of the gang's three "supreme kings" and one of Miller's killers.
As the highest-ranking female in the group, Devilbiss told the younger girls to clean up the blood-drenched apartment, according to testimony in the trials. Because of her rank, she also was chosen to go to the ball field.
Assistant State's Attorney M. Virginia Miles said that Devilbiss helped carry out the plot by making sure there was no trail of blood to the ball field, acting as a lookout and ensuring the apartment was cleaned.
Asking for no more than 12 years in prison for Devilbiss, defense lawyer Lloyd E. Clinton said his client was remorseful, noting that Devilbiss had refused to hold a weapon. He also described her role as "more passive than anything." Devilbiss pleaded guilty in March to a reduced charge of second-degree murder in exchange for cooperation with authorities. The maximum sentence on that charge is 30 years, although the plea bargain specified that Miles would seek no more than 25.
At yesterday's sentencing, Devilbiss wept as she said she felt remorse for the killing.
"I think about him every day, and I didn't really know him," she said.
Ann Miller, the victim's mother, who has attended all of the defendants' hearings, spoke for the first time in court yesterday, asking for lengthy sentences. She said the people who felt her son was "bossy" had no right to kill him.
"He could have been anyone's son, and no one's son should have to die the way he did," she said.