City teen convicted for role in '03 killing

17-year-old faces life in robbery attempt

February 04, 2005|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

After deliberating about five hours, a Baltimore County jury convicted a 17-year-old Baltimore boy yesterday of murder for his role in an attempted armed robbery that ended with the death of a young father who refused to hand over his wallet and backpack.

Ronald Deondre Evans silently shook his head as the three guilty verdicts - for attempted armed robbery, first-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence - were read at about 5:10 p.m. in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

The mother and sister of the victim, 18-year-old Kozar Tyrone Goode, burst into tears while his daughter, Kozaras, gurgled from the back of the courtroom. Evans faces up to life in prison when Judge Robert E. Cadigan sentences him. No sentencing date has been set.

Prosecutors told jurors that Evans was part of a group of young men who called themselves the Death Squad, roaming the streets in a stolen minivan and looking for people to rob. They made clear that authorities do not believe Evans pulled the trigger on Sept. 7, 2003, when Goode was fatally shot while walking from a friend's house to his parents' home in Parkville.

Prosecutors told jurors that under Maryland law, Evans is also legally responsible for Goode's death because he accompanied Damon Gerard Atkinson and his brother Eric on the search for people to rob that night. Eric Gerard Atkinson, 17, is the accused gunman.

"When the defendant stepped out of that stolen minivan with Eric Atkinson, who the defendant knew intended to rob Kozar Goode with a stolen handgun, did the defendant do so intending to prevent a robbery or with the intent to help commit the robbery?" Stephen Bailey asked in his closing argument.

But defense attorney James Dills asked jurors whether Evans participated in the attempted robbery, saying, "Even if they prove he intended to commit a robbery, just him standing there is not enough."

Dills also asked the seven women and five men of the jury to believe what Evans told the police detectives who interviewed him in February last year about why he exited the van with Eric Atkinson: "I opened the door and tried to stop Eric."

Bailey told jurors that Evans' explanations were nothing more than attempts to minimize his role in a crime at which police already knew he was present.

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

His brother Eric, also of Baltimore, was charged with first-degree murder and is scheduled to go to trial in April.

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