With rosary beads in his hands, a former prison gang member admitted in court Tuesday that he firebombed an Odenton townhouse in retaliation for the killing of a Crofton teenager - but prosecutors said the youth whose home Jonathan Myers targeted had "nothing to do with" Christopher Jones' slaying and was away at the time.
The crimes terrified not only the homeowners so much that they moved, but also the wider community in western Anne Arundel County that was largely unaware of youth gangs until the May 30 killing of 14-year-old Christopher and the June 3 firebombing of the house.
Particularly worrisome to police was Myers' gang link: He told investigators that he had left the violent white prison gang Dead Man Inc. in the spring.
On Tuesday, a partly covered-over DMI tattoo was visible on Myers' neck. He was in the process of getting rid of the gang tattoos, a requirement of quitting, when arrested.
Hidden by Myers' shirt sleeves was the Rest in Peace tattoo memorializing Christopher, hockey sticks crossed over angel wings, with a halo on top. Myers is the older brother of a friend of Christopher's.
Myers, 22, of Gambrills, pleaded guilty to first-degree arson before Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Paul A. Hackner. The prison term could be a maximum 30 years. Assistant State's Attorney Michael Dunty said he will seek a prison sentence above the state guidelines of up to 10 years, plus more than $31,000 in restitution when Hackner sentences Myers in December.
Defense lawyer Peter S. O'Neill will ask for a shorter sentence. Meanwhile, he said, Myers is in protective custody in the county jail because he is no longer involved in gangs.
Myers is also accused of an unrelated assault and is facing the possibility of additional prison time if convicted of three probation violations.
Dunty said the 3 a.m. firebombing so scorched the brick home that inside window blinds melted. No one was hurt.
Myers and three teenagers, who admitted their roles in juvenile court and depicted Myers as being in charge as well as doing the firebombing, had left a party held in remembrance of Christopher. Myers suggested they "do a cocktail," Dunty said, a reference to a Molotov cocktail, to scare Addie Mahmutagic. Police said Addie was rumored to have been involved in Christopher's homicide.
As they rode in the car of one of the youths, Myers called out "this is for Chris," and they "passed around the bottle of rum," Dunty said, adding that Myers filled the empty bottle of Captain Morgan with gasoline at a station.
"It also spilled in the car because there was no cap," Dunty said, noting that a fire dog detected the odor in the car.
One youth, who had been a friend of the target, knew where the Mahmutagics lived and led the foursome to the home. Slavica Mahmutagic, Addie's mother, angrily decried his role when that teenager was sentenced.
At the home, Dunty said, Myers got out of the car with the Molotov cocktail while the boys waited.
"They heard the glass break," Dunty said, and moments later they "saw Mr. Myers. He was yelling, 'go-go-go-go.' " They did not see Myers pour gasoline around the front door, stick the bottle between the storm and main doors and light it, causing an explosion that woke the sleeping family, Dunty said.
While on his bicycle near home, Christopher was punched repeatedly in a confrontation rooted in a gang dispute. Medical examiners said the blows caused fatal injuries.
One teenager admitted to hitting him and is being sent to a juvenile facility, and the other is scheduled to be tried in December.