Glen Burnie man gets 50 years for shooting man after bar fight

Anne Arundel judge gives sentence 5 years shy of the maximum

August 04, 2010|By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

An Anne Arundel County judge told a Glen Burnie man Wednesday that "society has no place for an individual" like him before sentencing him to 50 years in prison for fatally shooting another man after a bar fight.

Ricco Clifton Gough, 30, stood motionless as Circuit Court Judge Paul A. Hackner ordered a sentence that fell five years short of the 55-year maximum after a prosecutor argued that the incident for which he was convicted was the second time in 10 years that Gough used a gun to take out his rage on others over a fairly minor dispute.

Gough, of the 400 block of Silver Leaf Court in Glen Burnie, was convicted in May of second-degree murder and five weapons violations in the Jan. 10, 2009, fatal shooting of Nathaniel Benjamin Wallace, 37, of Baltimore, outside Dietrich's Tavern in Glen Burnie.

"I'm just glad this person is off the streets. He showed no remorse for what he'd done," Carrie Wesley, Wallace's mother, said after the sentencing at which she cried so hard she could barely read her statement asking the judge to impose the maximum sentence.

Wallace, known as "Nat" and "Stinka" to friends and family, was married and a father and stepfather of six, devoted to his family and returned to school to study heating, ventilation and air conditioning, said his wife, Sharron Wallace.

He had a criminal record, though his crimes were nonviolent and related to drugs.

Gough and Wallace moved in some of the same circles, but were not friends, lawyers in the case said.

Gough was described in court by a close friend as a family man. He had pleaded guilty to shooting into a car in 1999 on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Baltimore, wounding three occupants, over a traffic matter, said Assistant State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, who said that the earlier crime and the shooting of Wallace showed similarities.

"The judge saw Mr. Gough for what he is. He is an individual who deals with his problems by shooting somebody," said Leitess, who said she thought the sentence was appropriate for the crime.

Gough's attorney, John H. Robinson III, disagreed.

"I thought it was excessive in light of the facts of the case," he said. He had told the judge that a sentence closer to the bottom of the 25- to 40-year state guidelines would "have the effect of taking Mr. Gough's youth," and argued that "the state wants you to give him what amounts to a life sentence."

Gough will be eligible for parole consideration after serving about 25 years, Robinson estimated. He maintained that his client, who he said was disabled because of sickle cell anemia, was not guilty of the charges and would appeal. The jury that convicted him found him not guilty of first-degree murder.

"This wasn't even his fight," Leitess said.

The shooting had roots in a fight inside the crowded bar.

Wallace and a friend of Gough's, Andre White, argued over who was standing where, or too close, or bumped the other, and in the ensuing fistfight, Gough got involved to help his friend, lawyers said.

Bouncers broke it up, sending Gough and White and others outside. Robinson said Wallace hollered after them. "I know where you live and I'll see you tomorrow."

Outside the bar shortly after midnight, Wallace was talking on his cell phone, Leitess said. A bouncer saw a man with dreadlocks exit an SUV, shout at Wallace and then shoot him once in the chest.

The emotional pitch of the trial led to unusually heightened security for the sentencing, with eight deputies in the nearly packed courtroom and others, two with dogs, in the building's corridors.

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