Murder trial to begin

Gang rites expected to figure in case against teen in killing of cabdriver

March 26, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

The murder trial of an 18-year-old man charged in the shooting of a father of nine from Edgewood in 2004 could shed new light on the inner workings of the nascent gang presence in southern Harford.

With opening statements likely to begin in Harford Circuit Court tomorrow, the items expected to be offered as evidence include portions of a 45-page, handwritten "gang handbook" seized in a kitchen cabinet at a home visited by the defendant, Wayne Lavon Bond Jr.

Bond, of the 1300 block of Crimson Tree Way in Edgewood, has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Derald Howard Guess and, if convicted, faces the possibility of life in prison. Police say Guess was killed as part of a gang initiation rite.

At a motions hearing Wednesday, Bond's attorneys sought to suppress the introduction of the handbook as evidence. The cover depicts three black males holding "large-caliber handguns or rifles," the defense said, and wearing gang colors, which the defense argued would be prejudicial and inflammatory. The words "Deep Game," and "This War is Real" are pasted on the cover.

The book outlines gang terminology and makes reference to Blood oaths and pledges. The theme of the book is allegiance to the Bloods, a street gang, according to court documents in which prosecutors say Bond was "studying the book in an effort to learn its contents as a prerequisite to becoming a gang member."

The defense countered that the book could not be tied to Bond and that his fingerprints were not found on it. In a separate motion, Bond's attorneys said he was not wearing the gang's trademark red at the time of the killing and does not have a tattoo on his arm that is often associated with the Bloods.

Judge Thomas E. Marshall partly granted the request to suppress the handbook: The various oaths and pledges will be admissible, he said, but the glossary and photos of the cover will not. However, testimony about the cover will be allowed.

Deputy state's attorney Dianna Brooks was dealt a blow at the hearing when the defense won a motion to exclude testimony and evidence about the victim's background. Defense attorneys Eric P. Macdonnell and John W. Janowich argued that testimony about Guess being a substitute teacher, aspiring minister and father of nine would unfairly influence the jury.

Guess, a cabdriver, was killed early Dec. 8 during a trip to pick up a passenger on a suburban cul-de-sac a block from his family's townhouse in the Harford Square neighborhood of Edgewood.

Police say Bond, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, and Darrell Levon Miller were ordered by gang leaders to carry out the killing.

Miller pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in September and could be called to testify against Bond. He received a 45-year sentence in a plea arrangement in which he agreed to give testimony against Bond.

Miller told detectives that the attack on Guess began as a robbery, according to a police transcript in the court documents. After being instructed by a man named "Tek" to have $100 by the end of the week, Miller told police, he and Bond were told by a Blood sergeant to call a cab and rob the driver. The conversation evolved to an order to carry out murder, Miller told police.

According to the transcript, Miller told police that he was instructed: "If you don't do it, you going to get [messed] up by everybody that's Bloods."

The killing shocked the community and prompted Harford Sheriff R. Thomas Golding to launch a countywide anti-gang initiative in January of last year. A team of deputies was assigned to focus full time on gang activity, including in school and community outreach.

Among those swept up in a raid last fall was Eric Nikwan Barnett, 26, the reputed leader of the local Bloods. Barnett was convicted of gun possession and sentenced this month to five years in prison by a federal judge.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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