Prosecutor says defendant wore red after killing

Color signaled gang rite, he tells jury in opening statement as trial in Harford cabdriver's death begins

March 28, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

Members of the drug-running Bloods gang are known for wearing red, and when 17-year-old Wayne Lavon Bond Jr. began wearing that trademark color three days after the shooting of an Edgewood taxi driver, a prosecutor said it was because Bond had earned it.

Opening statements in Bond's murder trial in Harford County Circuit Court began yesterday with a prosecutor saying the teen killed Derald Howard Guess to prove himself to gang leaders. Bond's defense attorneys countered that while the gang element of the case is unseemly, there is no physical evidence linking the defendant to the crime.

Bond, now 18, is accused of phoning Guess' cab to a cul de sac in the Harford Square neighborhood and shooting him in the temple as part of his initiation into the Bloods. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Guess' slaying in 2004 cast a tragic spotlight on the budding gang presence in Harford County, where, police say, criminals from nearby cities, including New York, have attempted to establish a footing in recent years.

Deputy State's Attorney Diana A. Brooks told jurors yesterday that Bond was a "soldier recruit, a Blood wannabe" who wanted desperately to be a full-fledged member. To illustrate their inner workings to jurors, Brooks displayed a chart showing the local Bloods' hierarchy. And portions of a 45-page handbook of oaths and pledges is expected to be introduced into evidence during the trial.

"The Blood has volunteer members, but they rule by obedience, allegiance, threats and violence," she said.

John W. Janowich, one of Bond's public defenders, told jurors that despite all the resources poured into investigating the killing, prosecutors would not be able to offer any DNA, fingerprint, blood or other trace evidence.

"Sympathy and emotion should not play a role in your decision," Janowich said.

In pretrial motions last week, the defense successfully petitioned Judge Thomas E. Marshall to bar evidence and testimony about Guess' background. A father of nine, he was an aspiring minister, a substitute teacher and a cabdriver who had picked up extra shifts so he could afford to buy Christmas presents for his family, facts the jury will not hear over the next four to six days of testimony.

In the courthouse hallway after the trial broke for lunch, Bond's mother sought out Guess' widow, Michelle, and apologized. They embraced for several moments, sobbing as Bond's mother repeated, "I'm so sorry." They walked down the hall holding hands.

Outside, 21-year-old Shamaar Guess said his family has forgiven Bond.

"Forgiveness is what we do," said Guess, the son of the victim. "We forgave him a long time ago, and now it's left up to the justice system."

Darrell Levon Miller, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last fall for his involvement in the crime, is expected to take the stand today. Miller was sitting in the back seat of the cab just before Guess was shot. Miller is serving a 45-year sentence. Defense attorneys said they will seek to discredit his testimony as "bought and paid for."

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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