Man federally indicted in killing of state's witness

Jose Morales charged with murder for hire after man convicted of same killing cleared

September 11, 2012|By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun

Federal prosecutors indicted drug dealer Jose Joaquin Morales for ordering the 2008 killing of Robert Long, a witness against him in a theft case, just weeks after a man originally convicted of the murder had his conviction vacated.

Morales is serving a 20-year prison term after pleading guilty to federal drug charges. Another man, Demetrius Smith of Baltimore, was convicted in state court of Long's murder in 2010.

Smith maintained that he was innocent, and the City Paper reported in August that a new trial was ordered and his case quietly dropped when new information emerged in a federal investigation.

Michelle Nethercott of the Innocence Project worked to have Smith's conviction overturned.

"He has been vindicated in his assertion that he had nothing to do with this," she said of Smith.

Smith remains in prison on a concurrent sentence after he pleaded guilty to an assault.

It is unclear whom Morales might allegedly have hired to commit the murder, and the United States Attorney's office declined to comment further on the case.

iduncan@baltsun.com

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