Man, 19, held in plot to kill witnesses

Wife, daughter of victim who saw fatal shooting were targets, sources say

January 13, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A 19-year-old man awaiting trial for first-degree murder in Baltimore has been indicted on charges of conspiring to kill two eyewitnesses in his case - a 10-year-old girl and her mother, according to sources and documents obtained by The Sun.

Deandre Whitehead was indicted Thursday on two counts of solicitation to commit murder in a record that was sealed by a Circuit Court judge. According to documents filed in the case, Whitehead asked a fellow prisoner at the city jail to "pop" the girl and her mother to silence them from testifying.

The mother and child - whose names are being withheld to protect their safety - are the wife and daughter of a 47-year-old man who was killed Aug. 10 in Southwest Baltimore. Police records indicate the woman and child were present when the shooting took place.

Shortly after Whitehead's arrest on Aug. 16, he approached an inmate who was about to be released and asked him to carry out the killings, according to court documents. That prisoner, whose name is also being withheld for his safety, told police about the plot.

Whitehead told the inmate to "do the [expletive], indicating that the little girl would not be able to testify without her mother," according to documents.

Whitehead, of the 1300 block of S. Carey St., is being held without bail at the city jail and is scheduled for an arraignment on Jan. 22. Each conspiracy count carries a life sentence. The Baltimore state's attorney's office declined to comment on the indictment, which it successfully moved to have sealed last week. The girl's mother, who was the target of the death plot, also declined to comment yesterday when reached by phone.

In September, the Maryland State Police set up a wiretap inside the city jail to glean the details of the contract that Whitehead allegedly put out on the mother and her daughter. Court documents spell out a cold-blooded plan, including encoded messages and a payment schedule. Court documents did not say how much Whitehead would pay for the killings.

"Deandre Whitehead gave [the inmate] the street address for the girl and promised [the inmate] money, drugs and to be forever in his debt for the murder of the witness," according to a court document.

Whitehead devised a plan to correspond with the prisoner by mail once the inmate was released.

"The correspondence would contain the girl's street number and street name encoded in the letter which only Deandre Whitehead, and [the inmate] would understand was for the execution of the murder," the document said.

On Sept. 9, state police hid a recording device in an area of the jail and observed the two prisoners talking. Whitehead handed the inmate a scrap of paper with instructions on where to go and how to get paid for the deed, according to court documents.

Also, Whitehead was working with a woman in Southwest Baltimore who was helping him execute the plan, documents show. Undercover officers learned from the woman that she had sent someone to the mother's home in September, but the mother turned the person away by saying she was not a witness in Whitehead's case.

The woman later told an undercover officer she and Whitehead were having financial problems.

"She told the undercover officer that Deandre Whitehead still wanted the murder of the witnesses," according to the document, "but the money was a problem as she and Deandre Whitehead could not afford both private counsel fees and the money necessary for the murders."

Police said the chain of events began in August when Whitehead is accused of killing the man in front of the victim's family. It happened about 1 a.m. near where both men live. The victim's wife was arguing with Whitehead outside, court documents show.

The victim came outside with a walking cane and after seeing Whitehead reach in his pants, swung the cane at Whitehead, documents show. Whitehead shot him several times, according to records, and at 1:30 a.m., the victim died of gunshot wounds.

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