Man testifies that he helped kill Woodlawn teenager in July '04

He says hit was arranged to keep girl, 15, from speaking in rape case

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July 21, 2005|By Anica Butler | Anica Butler,SUN STAFF

A man who has pleaded guilty to murder in the death of a 15-year-old Woodlawn girl whose body was found burning in a park testified yesterday that he held the girl's legs down as another man strangled her, and that the killing was planned to prevent her from testifying in a statutory rape case.

Eric Thomas "Ock" Watkins, also said he hit Quartrina K. Johnson with a board as the girl struggled. Testifying in the murder trial of Ogden E. "G-Wizz" Coleman, Watkins, 20, said he gave Coleman a shoestring to choke the girl in July 2004.

Watkins also gave testimony supporting prosecutor Lisa Dever's contention in her opening statement that a third man ordered the girl's killing because she could have been a witness in a statutory rape case against that man.

Quartrina's foster sister, 14, testified yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court that she had a sexual relationship, starting at age 12, with Jason Terrence Richards. Richards, 25, is scheduled to go to trial on first-degree murder charges next week.

Coleman's attorney, Marshall T. Henslee, told the jury in his opening statement yesterday that his client, who is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, had no motive to kill the girl, and that no physical evidence links him to the crime. He also said that the two men who have pleaded guilty in the case are "not credible witnesses."

Michael Xavier Shelton, 19, who pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for a 50-year sentence with at least 40 years suspended, also testified yesterday. He said he helped Coleman take the body to a park and saw Coleman pour gasoline on the body. The girl's body, still burning, was found early July 20, 2004, at Gwynnvale Park in Pikesville.

Watkins pleaded guilty in May to first-degree murder in exchange for a life sentence with all but 60 years suspended. Yesterday, he testified that the four men and the two girls drove to a school in South Baltimore and that Richards then doled out duties. Watkins and Shelton were to kill Quartrina, and Coleman and Richards were to kill her foster sister, he testified. The plan faltered, however, when Coleman went to strangle Quartrina, Watkins said.

The foster sister and Richards separated from the group, and Coleman put Quartrina in choke hold and they fell to the ground, Watkins told the jury.

Watkins said he held the girl's feet down as she struggled, then hit her in the head with a board that Shelton dropped at his feet. He said he removed his shoelaces and gave them to Coleman to choke the girl. After that, he said, "her body went limp."

Henslee confronted the two men who testified with various statements they gave to police. Watkins said he blamed the plot on Coleman in his first statement to protect Richards.

The trial, before Judge Patrick Cavanaugh, is to continue today.

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