Teenager on trial for 2003 killing

`Death Squad' members fatally shot 18-year-old in Parkville robbery

February 01, 2005|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Kozar Tyrone Goode was walking home from a friend's house on the night of Sept. 7, 2003, in Parkville when, prosecutors say, a group of young men calling themselves the Death Squad spotted him.

Two young men hopped out of the stolen minivan in which they had been cruising the streets, looking for people to rob, and approached Goode, a Baltimore County prosecutor told a jury yesterday. But the 18-year-old refused to hand over his backpack and money, prompting one of the robbers to pull a gun and fatally shoot Goode in the back as he walked away, prosecutor Michelle Samoryk said.

"On Sept. 7, the Death Squad lived up to its name," Samoryk said in an opening statement as the murder trial of Ronald Deondre Evans got under way.

The prosecutor made clear that authorities do not believe Evans, 17, of Baltimore, was the one who pulled the trigger. That person, Samoryk told the jury, was Eric Atkinson.

But Evans accompanied Atkinson and his brother, Damon Atkinson, and knew they had with them a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun - not just the BB gun the group typically carried during street robberies, the prosecutor said.

Under Maryland law, Samoryk told the jurors, "because he participated in the armed robbery attempt, he is legally responsible for Kozar's death."

Defense attorney James Dills acknowledged that Evans made "a horrendous mistake." But that mistake, he told the seven women and five men of the jury, was getting into a van with the Atkinson brothers.

"You will decide whether or not Ronald Evans knew about and intended on committing a robbery and whether he participated in that robbery," Dills said in his opening statement.

Highlighting Evans' age - he was 16 at the time of the shooting - Dills said, "This case is about [being] 16 and stupid."

Damon Gerard Atkinson, 21, of Baltimore pleaded guilty last month to first-degree murder, admitting that he was driving the stolen minivan with his brother and Evans, a friend, when Goode was shot. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Eric Gerard Atkinson Jr., 17, of Baltimore was also charged with first-degree murder. He is scheduled to go to trial in April.

Evans is charged with first-degree murder and, if convicted, faces up to life in prison. Samoryk, the prosecutor, told jurors that Evans jumped out of the minivan with Eric Atkinson to approach Goode.

Police did not make any arrests in Goode's death until February last year when Baltimore County detectives were investigating a string of robberies in the Pikesville area. Police interviewed a suspect, who told them about the Death Squad and estimated that the group had committed 10 robberies before Sept. 7, Samoryk told jurors in her opening statement.

Listing the names of five Death Squad members, Samoryk said all but one have tattoos on their hands or wrists. Prosecutor Stephen Bailey described the tattoos for Baltimore County Circuit Judge Robert E. Cadigan as a "rather ornate" D and S with periods that resemble bullet holes punctuating the abbreviation.

Nonna Kirby, 31, Goode's sister, described him as a hard worker with a big heart.

"We called him `computer geek' because he wanted to do anything dealing with computers," she said.

Kirby said her brother had worked computer-related jobs since age 12 or 13 and would not have complied with the robbers' demands because "he worked too hard for what he had." Having been accepted to Lincoln Tech, Goode had withdrawn from Parkville High School to study computer science.

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