`Itchy Man' sentenced to life term in prison

Hit man was often accused, seldom convicted in past

October 28, 2006|By Matthew Dolan

A federal judge yesterday sentenced Solothal "Itchy Man" Thomas, the West Baltimore hit man who was often accused but rarely convicted in state courts, to life in prison plus 10 years.

Judge Catherine C. Blake was legally required to impose the life sentence after Thomas was convicted over the summer after a jury trial. Thomas' co-defendant, 30-year-old Edward Countess, received the same sentence.

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. But time after time, he won acquittals or pleaded guilty to lesser charges, receiving relatively short stints in prison.

He was featured in The Sun's 2002 series "Justice Undone." Thomas' past success in the courtroom was aided by incomplete investigations by police, oversights by prosecutors and a lack of cooperation from witnesses too afraid to speak out, according to The Sun's report.

The latest trial for Thomas involved his role in the death of a Milford Mill man who was shot 15 times nearly five years ago in a murder-for-hire plot. Admitted drug organization leader Tyree Stewart testified that he hired Thomas to kill Jesse Williams, a reformed drug dealer who robbed the organization in 1999.

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