Jurors get case of man charged in 2001 revenge shooting in city

March 25, 2003|By Kimberly A.C. Wilson | Kimberly A.C. Wilson,SUN STAFF

A federal jury began deliberating yesterday whether an East Baltimore man is guilty of being a member of a vicious city gang whose acts of retaliatory violence killed a half-dozen people and wounded scores of others.

Elijah Richardson, 23, is charged in a 2001 revenge shooting blamed on the so-called Lafayette Project Boys. The conspiracy case of a man prosecutors described as a minor player in the organization offered jurors a window into the rarely seen world of local drug operations.

Several witnesses took the stand in U.S. District Court in Baltimore and testified that Richardson was directly involved as a dealer for the drug ring.

Among them were three gang members who accepted guilty plea agreements in exchange for less severe sentences for their roles in shootings, turf wars and a lucrative drug operation that netted top bosses more than $25,000 a day.

Keith Mickles, 25, a self-proclaimed "boss" of the Project Boys who admitted opening fire in nearly a dozen shootings, including the killing of Darrin "D-Nice" Griffin in 2000, told jurors that he sold Richardson small quantities of cocaine for resale on three occasions.

Dietrick "D-Bone" Fortune, 27, who was twice convicted of drug charges in city Circuit Court in the 1990s, testified that he and Richardson took part in the Jan. 9, 2001, shooting that left Perry Bowles clinging to life with 10 bullet wounds.

Though prosecutors couldn't offer jurors physical proof that Richardson shot Bowles, his association with the gang in general and his presence at the shooting made him culpable of conspiracy, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew G.W. Norman.

"He knew they carried guns, he knew what they did with the guns, and he stayed with them, willingly," Norman told jurors. "He is responsible."

Defense attorney David Ash told jurors there was plenty of reasonable doubt that his client took part in the gang or its doings.

Jurors, some wearing small red, white and blue ribbons, or tiny Stars and Stripes flag pins, got the case slightly after 1 p.m. and were expected to resume deliberations this morning.

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