Perry gets life without parole, plus 50 years, in 1998 double murder

Second trial for defendant accused of killing women in presence of 2 children

April 01, 2011|By Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun

Kenneth D. Perry, who was found guilty in February of killing two women 12 years ago in the presence of two children — one of them his infant son — was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole, plus 50 years. As he was led out of the courtroom, he grinned and began humming a tune.

Judge Stuart R. Berger said that in his 13 years on the bench, he had not seen a more "horrific, callous and senseless act of violence," and called it "tragic and gratuitous."

The 45-year-old defendant, notorious for his contentiousness in court, had been convicted in the case once before, in 2001, and given the same sentence, but a judge later determined that a prosecutor had failed to turn over crucial materials to the defense. His retrial in Baltimore Circuit Court was punctuated by highly emotional testimony, much of it from Jewel Williams, the daughter of one of the dead women, who was 4 years old when she watched Perry shoot her mother in July 1998.

The victims were LaShawn Jordan, Jewel's mother, who had a son with Perry and in whose Reservoir Hill apartment the murders occurred, and her friend, Kelly Bunn, who was pregnant at the time. Prosecutors said that Perry, who has a long criminal history, including an earlier conviction for attacking a woman to whom he was married, shot Jordan in the head because she had ended their relationship and might have begun seeing someone else. Bunn, they said, happened to be staying with Jordan when Perry went to commit the murder.

When asked by the judge whether he had anything to say before sentence was pronounced, Perry embarked on a rambling discussion of his criminal record and his request for a new trial, but he neither confirmed nor denied a role in the 1998 killings, and made no attempt to apologize for anything.

After the sentencing, Donna Webster, Jordan's mother, said that Perry "has to go back to his cell and his solitude and deal with his demons." Then, as if reconsidering her comment, she suggested that he was incapable of such reflection: "He's numb. He's tuned out. He had a choice to feel remorse and to ask God for forgiveness, and until he does that, he'll be tormented."

Lisa Phelps, one of the two prosecutors on the case, called Perry a "cold, callous killer to the end." Phelps told the judge that Perry's past was "littered" with crimes, including a 1992 conviction for assault with intent to maim in connection with an attack on his wife at the time. Witnesses said he chased after the woman with a gun, struck her on the head, dragged her by the hair and told her, "You're as good as gone."

When he killed Jordan, the prosecutor said, Perry shot her in the top of the head while she was on her knees, most likely begging for her life.

Jewel Williams, who is now 17, told the court Friday that she cannot help remembering the shootings, but that neither she nor her half brother, Kendall — Perry's son, who was a baby at the time — will allow their lives to be ruined by what Perry did. She said she recently obtained a scholarship to St. Mary's College of Maryland and plans to become a neurosurgeon.

"I'm going to grow up and be successful," Jewel said, "and he's going to rot in hell."

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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