Victim's friend held in drug case

February 02, 2007|By Jennifer McMenamin and Gus G. Sentementes | Jennifer McMenamin and Gus G. Sentementes,sun reporters

The boyfriend of the woman whose body was found this week in the trunk of her car in Northwest Baltimore turned himself in yesterday to face accusations that he violated the conditions of his release while awaiting trial on federal drug charges.

Jermarl A. Jones, 31, of Hyattsville, who is charged in a year-old federal indictment with conspiring to sell heroin, is also wanted for questioning by city police investigating his girlfriend's death.

Agent Donny Moses, a Baltimore police spokesman, declined to release any additional details about that investigation.

Jones was the boyfriend of Sintia Mesa, a 25-year-old salon employee whose nude body was found Monday afternoon in the trunk of her car in an apartment complex parking lot. Baltimore police have said that she was killed by asphyxiation.

Jones appeared in U.S. District Court in Baltimore yesterday for a brief hearing. Another hearing was set for today to decide whether Jones should remain in federal custody while awaiting trial, scheduled for March 5.

Federal authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Jones Tuesday evening, alleging that he was no longer living at the address he provided to the court when a judge ordered that he be released, and that he failed to check in with pretrial services officials earlier this week.

Defense attorney Stanley H. Needleman, who is representing Jones in the drug case, told U.S. District Judge Susan K. Gauvey that he contacted his client Tuesday evening as soon as he learned about the new warrant.

"Let me make it perfectly clear: Mr. Jones is not running from anyone," Needleman said in court. "If there was anything untoward about how long he was out, let me take responsibility for it."

Prosecutor Philip S. Jackson told the judge that the U.S. attorney's office and the pretrial services personnel will be seeking to have Jones locked up pending trial.

Although an arrest warrant on the drug charges was first issued for Jones in September 2005, he was not arrested until Jan. 3, when authorities tracked him down. He was riding in Mesa's car when he was arrested, authorities said.

A federal judge ordered Jones' release Jan. 5 on his recognizance. U.S. marshals then handed Jones over to authorities in Baltimore County, where he was named in a warrant related to a car theft charge.

In that case, Jones was released to await trial, scheduled for later this month in District Court in Catonsville.

jennifer.mcmenamin@baltsun.com gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

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