Killer is sentenced to 30 years

Man convicted in 2003 shooting, called experienced criminal, may also face U.S. charge

October 25, 2006|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,Sun reporter

At age 31, Jason Beau Moody has collected nine criminal convictions, five of them felonies. Most of those sentences have included suspended jail time and probation, which he has violated at least twice.

Yesterday, Moody -- a man authorities call a sophisticated, dangerous criminal with access to forged documents -- was sentenced to 30 years in prison, the maximum term possible for his manslaughter and weapons violations convictions last month.

He was convicted of gunning down Kevin Shields, 26, in July 2003 on a Northwest Baltimore parking lot, in front of the man's young son, Jose.

Moody may also face 15 or more years of federal prison time, his attorney said, because federal authorities are pursuing charging him with being a felon in possession of a weapon at the time of the Baltimore killing.

The sentencing hearing yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court was unusually well-attended and emotional. Federal authorities sat alongside a city homicide detective. In the rear of the courtroom, between Moody's relatives, was Stephanie Madariaga, the ex-wife of Shields, who had a role in the shooting.

After four of Shields' relatives and two of Moody's relatives made tearful statements to Circuit Judge Roger Brown, Moody pleaded for mercy.

"I didn't want to take his life," Moody said, turning to Shields' relatives in the courtroom. He said the prosecutor's version of the case made him sound like "a cold-blooded killer" but that he killed Shields because he felt his life was in danger.

Defense attorney Kenneth W. Ravenell said "the evidence is clear that Mr. Shields was the aggressor in this case." A city jury seemed to accept that version, acquitting Moody of first- and second-degree murder charges after last month's trial.

But Assistant State's Attorney Diana Smith said Moody loaded his gun -- with gold bullets -- during the confrontation on a Northwest Baltimore apartment parking lot.

He fired his first shot while Shields was on a cell phone, turned away from Moody, Smith said, then shot Shields twice in the back and ran over his body as he fled in his Cadillac Escalade.

Using counterfeit travel documents, Moody and Madariaga fled briefly to the Dominican Republic. They were arrested at a New Jersey airport in September 2003. Moody had more counterfeit documents and had been planning to fly to Ghana, according to court documents.

Some of the relatives who made statements yesterday fretted about Jose, the 10-year-old who witnessed his father's shooting. The relatives said Jose is being raised by Madariaga, who also has a young daughter with Moody.

Peggy Moody, the defendant's mother, said she hoped the adults could find a way to set aside their differences for the benefit of the two children, who love each other.

Robert and Claudette Shields said Madariaga has prevented them from visiting their grandson, Jose, whom they helped raise. Shields was their only son, Jose their only grandchild.

Madariaga, who pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact, also testified at the trial. But prosecutors say she omitted key details in her testimony and are seeking to have her plea deal voided. The maximum possible sentence for her charge is five years.

julie.bykowicz@baltsun.com

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