`Itchy Man' seeks reversal


July 21, 2006|By MATTHEW DOLAN

Lawyers for Solothal `Itchy Man' Thomas, the reputed West Baltimore hit man who has long sidestepped convictions for violent crimes, has filed papers in federal court asking a judge to overturn his recent murder-for-hire conviction.

Defense attorneys Archangelo M. Tuminelli and Teresa Whalen argued that U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake erred early this month when she gave an additional instruction to jurors who later found Thomas and his co-defendant guilty of the 2001 murder of a Milford Mill man.

The judge made a mistake because her jury instruction relied on a federal conspiracy law that had been amended after Thomas was charged, the attorneys wrote. The new law should not apply retroactively to the case, according to Thomas' lawyers.

Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said yesterday that the judge carefully considered new instructions at trial and therefore the convictions should not be vacated.

Thomas, who did not attend his trial because he is challenging the legitimacy of the federal courts to hear his case, was convicted July 6 of conspiracy to commit murder. He will face an automatic sentence of life in prison if the conviction is not overturned.

Thomas, 30, had been charged with killing two people and attempting to kill a dozen more as part of his work as an `enforcer' for a large drug organization, according to prosecutors. But time after time, he won acquittals or pleaded guilty to lesser charges, receiving relatively short stints in prison.

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