Bernstein to announce results of six-month investigation

May 17, 2012|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein will hold a news conference Friday morning to announce the results of a six-month investigation into an alleged murder and drug conspiracy, which sources say was touched off by the home invasion killing of a former high school wrestling standout.

The case stems from the death of Darian Kess, 27, who was stabbed in the neck in late April 2011 during a home invasion in the 1200 block of Linworth and died a few days later. Police said at the time that the primary suspect in Kess' killing, Alex Venable, was killed in a triple shooting 12 hours later in the 1900 block of N. Collington Ave.

In addition to the triple shooting, the fallout from Kess' killing led to more retaliatory violence, according to sources familiar with the investigation, and authorities recovered a significant amount of drugs in raids connected to the case. One of the suspects was indicted in March on two separate attempted murder cases, records show.

The news conference is scheduled for 11 a.m., and will include city police, the DEA, and federal prosecutors. 

The Sun's Luke Broadwater profiled Kess and his murder last year for b, The Sun's weekly publication: 

Kess "shattered Archbishop Curley’s four-year takedown record in little more than one year. He captured two state titles in two seasons. And, in one year alone, he managed to beat seven wrestlers ranked in the top 10 in the country."

But he was kicked out of Overlea High School and charged with felony assault in 2001, and was convicted and spent two years behind bars. Many of the doors open to him were closed, such as scholarship offers. He never wrestled again, and was arrested several more times on drug charges, including marijuana and cocaine possession. The state placed him on a watch list of “high risk” offenders called the Violence Prevention Initiative.

In 2008, he had a child, and rededicated himself to the church. Then he was diagnosed with lymphoma, which he beat with chemotherapy. His death occurred as he contemplated leaving the city to start a new life. 

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