Man guilty of cab driver's death

18-year-old Bond could face life in prison in what was described as gang-related shooting


A Harford County jury convicted an 18-year-old man yesterday of murder in the shooting of an Edgewood cab driver and father of nine in 2004, a crime prosecutors said was motivated by the defendant's desire to make his mark with a local gang.

Wayne Lavon Bond Jr. stood emotionless as the jury read the verdict after five hours of deliberations, only turning to watch as his sisters escorted his nieces and nephews out of the courtroom while sobbing. He could face life in prison.

Prosecutors described the verdict as a victory against gang violence, as well as against witness intimidation. "We hope what this says is, `We can be successful if you work with us,'" State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly said of witness cooperation. "We will try the case and get the gangs. The witnesses here get a lot of credit."

In closing arguments, a prosecutor said Bond was following gang orders when he robbed Derald Howard Guess, 37, and shot him in the head. Bond's accomplice, Darrell Levon Miller, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last fall, and Miller's brother, who turned them in to police, both testified that Bond was the shooter.

The defense did not offer a conflicting account of events of the night of the crime, working instead to cast doubt on the state's case. Despite pouring resources into the investigation, which shocked the community and spurred county police to put a greater focus on gangs, the prosecution could offer no fingerprint, DNA or trace evidence, public defender Eric P. Macdonnell told jurors.

He said Miller, 21, who has admitted being in the cab before the shooting and hiding the gun that was used, fingered Bond as the shooter to earn a lighter sentence.

As they left the courthouse with cell phones to their ears, one of Bond's sisters said he did not receive a fair trial. Macdonnell said he plans to appeal.

During the trial, jurors did not hear biographical details about Guess, an aspiring minister and substitute teacher who had recently started working part time for a cab service. The defense won a pretrial motion to bar evidence and testimony about his background, fearing it would prejudice the jury.

Guess' family was not present when the verdict was read because of a family emergency, court officials said.

But his oldest son, Shamaar, said Monday the family had moved past the incident and forgiven Bond. That day, Guess' widow, Michelle, and Bond's mother embraced in the hallway with Bond's mother whispering, "I'm so sorry."

The trial provided a window into Harford's nascent gang presence. Portions of a 45-page handbook of gang oaths and pledges were introduced as evidence, and Miller told how new members must sustain 31 seconds of beatings to join.

Though Bond was not a member before the crime, Deputy State's Attorney Diana A. Brooks told jurors Bond was wearing gang symbols when he was arrested three days later.

The trial was particularly satisfying for Brooks, who spent a considerable amount of time with the Guess family over the past year.

"They're dear people, a lovely family, and they entrusted me with the decision making," Brooks said.

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