Suspect's troubles have roots in the past

Del. man accused of killing 2, wounding 4 in shootings has history of drug use, arrests

Del. man accused of killing two, wounding four has troubled past

April 09, 2005|By Gus G. Sentementes and Jason Song | Gus G. Sentementes and Jason Song,SUN STAFF

LAUREL, Del. - Before dawn Thursday, a dark and frightening vigil took place in Teresa DeShields' tidy apartment as her daughter's boyfriend fell apart.

For seven hours, DeShields, daughter Keisha, 25, and a friend watched Allison Lamont Norman cry and writhe on the living room floor. Norman spoke of wanting to kill his mother and a man who he said had repeatedly molested him as a child. "He fell on the floor and said, 'Help me, help me,'" DeShields said yesterday. "He just lay there, moaning and groaning."

Later, about 8 a.m., Norman ordered Keisha DeShields to produce his 9 mm handgun from the place where she had hidden it in her own apartment. Police say he then began a shooting spree that left two dead and four injured in Delaware and Maryland.

Norman was being held without bond on first-degree murder and handgun charges after a hearing yesterday in a Wicomico County courtroom in which he threatened to harm his lawyer, the judge and security officers.

"I'm going to murder everything you touch," he told District Judge R. Scott Davis.

Norman, 22, is accused of killing two people - Jamell Weston, 24, of Laurel, and DaVondale M. "Pete" Peters, 28, of Salisbury - and injuring four others in an apparently random shooting spree that terrorized people in two states Thursday morning.

Delaware authorities prepared a warrant for Norman's arrest that charges him with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, wearing a bulletproof vest while committing a felony, theft and other weapons violations, a Delaware State Police spokesman said. The warrant remained unexecuted because he was in custody in Maryland, the spokesman said.

In his behavior yesterday, in court documents and in interviews with Teresa DeShields and others who know Norman, a portrait emerged of a troubled, sometimes angry young man with a history of drug use and arrests.

His behavior was bizarre at his bond hearing yesterday in Wicomico County District Court in Salisbury. Surrounded by a dozen armed guards and dressed in a black-and-white prison-issued jumpsuit, he muttered profanities throughout the hearing. Many defendants do not say anything during their bail reviews, but Norman proclaimed his innocence several times.

"I didn't do it," he said. "How the [expletive] did I murder someone on the 7th when today is the 8th?" he said.

Though authorities said he had indicated yesterday morning that he wanted legal representation, he said several times during his hearing that he did not want a lawyer. "I don't want nothing from that [expletive]," he said of his attorney.

Davis said Norman was the most abusive defendant he had seen in 16 years on the bench, and he threatened to silence him during future hearings. "I fully intend to muzzle him unless he decides to conduct himself in a civil manner," Davis said.

Norman stopped cursing only when he twice appeared close to tears and when he paused to acknowledge two women in the courtroom. "How you doing, miss? Everything all right?" he said to one.

Wicomico County State's Attorney Davis Ruark said he was not sure whether he would pursue the death penalty, but said he believes Norman put "some thought" into his actions. Norman was wearing a bulletproof vest when he was apprehended.

He started wearing that vest shortly after a drug-related shootout in October in Delmar, according to DeShields and other acquaintances.

After that shooting, Norman lived with his mother, Alice Stanford, and her husband in their home in Seaford, Del. More recently, he had been spending time at Keisha DeShields' apartment because the two have a child together, her mother said. But she said Norman also had another girlfriend in Seaford.

Her daughter could not be reached for comment. Norman's mother also could not be reached.

Norman has an older half-brother, Shane J. DeShields, a distant cousin of Teresa's, who is serving a life sentence for the April 2003 robbery and killing of a Sussex County, Del., teenager over cash, jewelry and crack cocaine.

Teresa DeShields said that at her apartment early Thursday, Norman expressed resentment toward his mother because she had frequently left him and Shane DeShields alone with a man who molested them. Testimony during Shane DeShields' murder trial showed that he had been raped at age 7 and raised in an environment of drugs and violence, The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., reported.

"All he kept saying was he's got to get revenge for him and his brother," Teresa DeShields said.

Norman has struggled with law enforcement officials before. He was arrested at least twice for resisting arrest. On New Year's Eve 1999, officers pulled over a car in which Norman was a passenger. When they attempted to search him, he tried to flee and had to be restrained by three officers, according to court documents. Police later found seven grams of crack cocaine and 10 grams of marijuana on Norman and charged him with drug crimes.

In March 2001, two officers had to wrestle Norman to the ground and pepper spray him several times after a traffic stop. Police also found crack on Norman, according to documents.

After his 1999 arrest, Norman was put in a camp for troubled youths. He said another inmate punched him in the eye on April 9, 2001, causing swelling and blurred vision, according to a letter he wrote to a Delaware judge in July 2002. Norman said he was "in fear of his life" and "suffered psychological and physical harm, in which problems with [his] eye continue."

After his 2001 arrest, Norman was placed in a work-release program, according to court papers. He worked at the Peninsula Poultry Equipment Co. in Laurel during the spring and summer of last year. Around that time, Norman got in another altercation with police, according to an April 2004 letter written to the court by his mother.

Stanford said her son had been making progress, and "he's trying to be responsible," she wrote. "He doesn't even own a gun."

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