Man, 37, pleads guilty in 2002 shooting death

December 20, 2007|By Tyeesha Dixon | Tyeesha Dixon,Sun reporter

A Baltimore man who is serving a federal prison sentence for a drug conviction pleaded guilty yesterday in Howard County Circuit Court to second-degree murder in the shooting death of a man at a Columbia apartment complex in 2002.

In a plea agreement, Marc Colin Ward, 37, was sentenced to 135 months in prison, the same term he got last week in U.S. District Court in Baltimore for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana. The two sentences will be served concurrently.

In September 2002, Ward, of the 1700 block of W. North Ave., fatally shot Rudolph Edwin Aytes, 49, in the stairwell of the apartment complex where Aytes lived in the 9600 block of White Acre Road in Columbia, according to charging documents.

Prosecutors charged Ward in the shooting last year after an informant said he had heard Ward discussing details of the shooting in 2004.

They said Aytes had stored cocaine for Ward and that they think the shooting might have been related to a money dispute between the two men.

The plea deal was bittersweet for prosecutors, who closed a five-year-old homicide case but, because of scant evidence and other issues, had to settle for a sentence that gave Ward no additional prison time A second-degree-murder charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years.

At yesterday's hearing, Assistant State's Attorney Brendan Clary said there were no witnesses and no DNA, fingerprints or other forensic evidence against Ward. Most of the state's case, prosecutors said, would have come from an informant who is a convicted drug dealer and was a crack-cocaine addict.

"This was a very difficult case. ... This was not the desired outcome, but it was the best outcome," Assistant State's Attorney James Dietrich said after the hearing.

Howard County Circuit Judge Richard S. Bernhardt said he granted the sentence with reluctance.

"We loved him very much," said Aytes' brother, who attended the hearing with his parents and other family members and who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation. "We're just glad we have closure."

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