Man Sentenced In Killing At Family Barbecue

April 23, 2009|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,

A 20-year-old with the intelligence of a middle-schooler was sentenced Wednesday to 61/2 years in prison for the voluntary manslaughter of another man during a brawl at a family barbecue that began over a PlayStation video game.

The victim, Irvin Conley, 24, was one of the few people at the house in the 4300 block of Glenmore Ave. who wasn't related to the large family holding the party.

He was also one of the few people involved in the fight who didn't have a substantial criminal record, prosecutor Robin Wherley said.

Wherley said that shortly before midnight on July 3, 2006, Reginald Dorsey and Keon Dorsey got in a fight with their cousin, Roger Burks, over allegations of cheating on the video game. Guests made several efforts to break up the fight, including throwing ice water on Burks, who was drunk.

At some point, one relative, a woman, was thrown through a window. Another relative, Brandon Gray, intervened, choking Burks until he nearly lost consciousness. Burks then stabbed Gray several times in the stomach. When Conley moved to intervene, Burks fatally stabbed him four times, hitting the carotid artery.

In a series of gruesome photos, Wherley showed Judge Gale E. Rasin how Conley bled all over the house while Burks fled to a home nearby, suffering from a small cut to his hand.

Baltimore police officer Vernon Fuller arrived at the Northeast Baltimore home to "a number of people yelling and screaming" and one person "hosing down the crime scene," Wherley said.

Gray survived, but he refused to cooperate with prosecutors. Other relatives refused to cooperate or said they never saw who stabbed Conley. Keon Dorsey, 20, is currently facing murder charges in Baltimore Circuit Court; Reginald Dorsey Jr., 28, has a pending probation violation in a drug case, according to online court records.

Detectives were able to close the case after DNA results showed that the victim's blood had soaked through Burks' jeans and into his shorts. And a mixture of Burks' and Conley's blood was on the handle of the knife.

Burks' multiple lies and behavior also helped build the case. In one interview with police, Burks denied knowing his own mother. And on the night of the killing, he took off his blood-soaked jeans in the back of a patrol car and threw them out the window.

Judge Rasin, who accepted Wednesday's plea, said she did so relying on several medical evaluations, the contents of which are sealed. But Rasin said a doctor concluded that Burks suffered from a long list of behavioral disorders, including "borderline intellectual functioning," though he was not mentally ill.

"I don't believe this happened for a reason at all," Rasin told Burks. "It happened because of alcohol and your lack of control over your own behavior."

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