Man, 24, held in killing

Footprints in snow led police to suspect in death of woman

January 29, 2009|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,

Sgt. Steve Olson only had to follow the footprints.

With snow falling and few people out Tuesday night, whoever shot 23-year-old Jasmine Harris in the doorway of her family's West Baltimore home had left a clear trail.

It twisted from the home, through an alley behind several houses, and up onto a porch on Gwynns Falls Parkway. It led to an area where a vehicle appeared to have pulled up, and then, right back to the crime scene in the 3000 block of Windsor Ave.

There, standing on the corner, at the end of the footprints, was Kenneth R. Warren Jr.

He was watching police response to the shooting. Wearing a black knit cap and a long black coat, he also matched the description a neighbor had provided of a suspect. Olson took the 24-year-old in for questioning, and he has been charged with first-degree murder.

Harris was described yesterday as a fun-loving and outgoing mother of two who was working at Wal-Mart and planning to move out of her family's home and into an apartment.

But police charging documents say she also had an "ongoing problem" with members of the Black Guerrilla Family, a violent prison gang for whom she had smuggled drugs. Several weeks ago, in a dispute, she had been "beaten beyond recognition," records show.

Family members said they were terrified by the incident and did not want to be identified. An aunt who was in the home said she heard the first gunshot - so loud it startled her. She called her husband, who was parking the car on the street, to tell him to be careful.

"There's somebody 'round here shooting," she told him.

Then came the second shot, and the aunt went downstairs. There she found Harris lying in the doorway, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chin as her children slept in the next room.

Family members said Harris had received a call on her cell phone moments before she was killed and went to the front door.

"It appeared she was the intended target and that the victim knew her attacker when she answered the door," Detective Gordon Carew reported, according to the documents. "Indications were that the motive for the murder was related to her involvement with the BGF gang."

Warren, of the 200 block of Mount Holly St., has several drug arrests but no major convictions over the past few years. Police say he gave conflicting statements to detectives about his whereabouts and involvement in the crime. They say he acknowledged that he knew Harris, as well as a BGF member named "Ant," one of the suspected gang members alleged to be in conflict with Harris.

Police say Warren was carrying gel caps containing suspected heroin when he was taken into custody but no weapon. Police believe he may have handed the gun to someone in a vehicle before returning to the scene.

Court records show that as recently as last month, Warren listed an address in the 3100 block of Windsor Ave. - a block from Harris' home.

Despite her suspected role with the gang, Harris did not have a criminal record beyond a 2004 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.

Yesterday morning, family and friends had not received word that an arrest had been made. They said they didn't know why Harris would have been targeted and said she was trying to do right. She leaves behind two sons, a 7-year-old and an 18-month-old.

"It's important that whoever did this understands that she's got two sons, one who will never know how special and wonderful she was," said a friend. "They took that away from them. It's affected so many people."

"She wasn't a threat to nobody. Nobody," said her father.

Baltimore Sun reporter Liz F. Kay contributed to this article.

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