Dundalk man gets 75 years in killing

December 08, 2009|By Nick Madigan | nick.madigan@baltsun.com

A 26-year-old Dundalk man was sentenced Monday to 75 years in prison for his role in the shooting death of a woman in Middle River.

Warren J. Yates was the third man to be sentenced in the case, which centered on a drug deal gone awry.

Yates was identified by police as the gunman who fired the shot that killed Shirley Worcester, 58. She was hit by a stray bullet on Jan. 7 as she stood in her driveway talking with relatives who had just returned from church.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Susan Souder sentenced Yates to 30 years for second-degree murder, 20 years for using a handgun in a felony, 20 years for drug-trafficking with a firearm, and five years for conspiracy to distribute marijuana - all to be served consecutively - for a total of 75 years. He was also given a concurrent 25-year sentence for first-degree assault.

In October, a jury deliberated for more than four hours before finding that Yates and another man, Donald S. Kohler, 29, of Joppatowne, were responsible for Worcester's death.

Prosecutors said Yates began chasing Kohler after discovering that the $4,400 in cash that Kohler had ostensibly paid him for a four-pound trash bag full of marijuana was in fact a roll of fake money with a $100 bill on the outside. When Kohler took off with the pot, prosecutors said, Yates ran after him, firing his gun as Kohler dashed across Worcester's lawn on Middle River's Whitethorn Way. One of the bullets hit her in the chest.

Last month, Kohler was sentenced to a 35-year prison term after being found guilty of second-degree murder and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Two weeks earlier, William M. Griffin, 22, of Essex, who prosecutors said had been helping Yates sell drugs, was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to distributing a controlled dangerous substance.

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