'Guerrilla' Guilty In Murder

April 18, 2009|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,melissa.harris@baltsun.com

A member of the Black Guerrilla Family gang was convicted Friday of first-degree murder in the killing of an 18-year-old man who had just run away from a group home and had turned to gang members for income and a place to stay.

Bryant Williams volunteered to take Darius Harmon "under his wing," a witness testified. But within 48 hours of meeting him, Williams executed the teenager in an abandoned house in the 2200 block of Barclay St. because he had made mistakes in handling drug money, the jury found.

"He was slow - he was not good at selling drugs," prosecutor Kevin Wiggins said of the teenager. "On two occasions, the defendant had said the young man's life was worthless, that nobody cared about him. And then he told the kid they were going to go smoke a blunt in the backyard."

The case was remarkable in that the jury convicted Williams, 24, on the testimony of one witness who did not see the crime - a former Black Guerrilla Family member with a federal prison sentence for gun possession and state probation violations for drugs hanging over his head.

One juror, a 28-year-old graduate student, whose name The Baltimore Sun is withholding for his safety, said he was struggling to explain why the panel believed the witness.

"On the surface, he was not the most trustworthy person. But the other evidence was at least consistent with what he said, and from the moment he was picked up [on a gun charge], he gave the same story," the juror said.

According to testimony during previous court proceedings, the witness was under enormous pressure to change his story.

In August, the witness accused Williams' former attorney, Leslie Stein, of visiting him in jail or the courthouse lockup four times to try to persuade him to change his story. Stein denied the accusations but admitted telling the witness he would "burn in hell" if his lies sent Williams to prison.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Timothy Doory ruled that the jury could hear the witness' allegations against Stein, and the case was postponed.

Seven months later, the witness calmly responded to a grilling from Williams' new defense attorney, Warren Brown.

Brown showed how the witness participated in a gang that plotted robberies, killed people and sold drugs across Baltimore, and how the witness appeared to have no regard for his three children and the gang's many victims - until he got locked up.

The witness testified that he heard Williams say on two occasions that Harmon was worthless. And as a group of gang members was getting high on a stoop, the witness said Williams lured the teenager into a rear alley.

The witness and other gang members heard a gunshot. But when Williams returned, no one said anything.

Harmon's mother, Andrea Jones, said that her son suffered from attention deficit hyper-activity disorder, was on medication, and he had repeatedly run away from foster care and group homes. She said that his godmother and a former foster parent lived in the area where he was killed - a few blocks northwest of Green Mount Cemetery.

Jones said she could not explain why her son did not turn to them.

"He didn't deserve it," she said. "He wanted to be a part of something, and this what happens when you fall into the wrong hands."

Sentencing is scheduled for June 11 before Baltimore Circuit Judge John C. Themelis. Williams faces a maximum of life plus 20 years in prison.

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