Man sentenced to life without parole in Rodgers Forge murder

August 27, 2014|By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

Calling the shooting a "simply cold-blooded execution," a Baltimore County judge sentenced Dante Antonio Woods to life without parole on Wednesday for a fatal shooting in Rodgers Forge last summer.

Prosecutors said Woods — who was 22 at the time — gunned down Donte Stephens, 36, on July 17, 2013, outside his home in the 100 block of Murdock Road, where he lived with his girlfriend and her daughter, who had a 5-year-old son with Woods.

Judge Sherrie R. Bailey said it's "rare to see homicide cases where there is this much time to think and consider one's actions. There were so many chances for this to have been avoided."

Assistant state's attorney Michael S. Fuller argued for the life sentence, citing Woods' previous violent criminal history, starting with an assault charge at the age of 14.

He said Woods' acts before the shooting showed that "without a doubt, this was a premeditated execution."

Fuller described in court how Woods left work early, arranged a ride to Rodgers Forge, and even stopped to pick up a gun on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Cellphone records show Woods waited in the neighborhood for 30 minutes, long enough for his car to be spotted in a no-parking zone by a neighbor, Fuller said.

Fuller said Woods waited until Stephens left early to drive to work, firing six shots at him. Struck three times, Stephens hit the accelerator, sending his silver Dodge careening down the street, striking other vehicles, until it flipped.

After Bailey announced her sentence, several of Woods' family members cried out in the gallery and a woman ran from the room.

Woods' attorney, Gil S. Amaral, said Woods felt Stephens was trying to keep Woods away from the family, including his son.

Shortly after his arrest, police wrote in charging documents of a dispute between Stephens and Woods, after Stephens told Woods he could no longer do laundry at the home. Police also charged Charles Leroy Jackson Jr., 27, who drove Woods to the neighborhood. He was sentenced in May to 30 years.

"It's a tragedy when you have a young man who feels there is no option but to commit a terrible act," Amaral said. "He was a decent person."

He said Woods just wanted to see his son, who started school Wednesday.

"Dante should have been there," said Woods' mother, Michelle Tyler, who spoke at his sentencing, asking the judge to consider the 5-year-old boy.

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