Tuesday, December 11, 2007

From the SA's Office: Murderer Nabbed on VOP

Bruce L. Smith, 28, of Southwest Baltimore, was sentenced to 28years in prison after Judge Sylvester Cox found him guilty of violating his probation at a hearing held in Baltimore Circuit Court on December 7, 2007.

In December 2005, Smith pleaded guilty before the Honorable Sylvester Cox to second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder in connection to two separate shooting incidents which occurred in the West Baltimore and Hilton Streets area of Southwest Baltimore in December 2004.

The State was left with little choice but to offer a plea to the defendant after the State’s primary identification witnesses recanted their identification of the defendant that they had previously made to the police. In each case, Mr. Smith was sentenced to 30 years with all but time served and the remaining time, about 28-years, was suspended. He was also placed on 4-years of probation. The two sentences were to be served concurrent to one another.

As part of his conditions of probation, Mr. Smith was required to obey all laws and prohibited from possessing any handguns or illegal narcotics.

Fourteen months later, on the afternoon of April 9, 2007, police working in the Southwest District observed Bruce Smith slowly drive his fiancĂ©’s car onto Ellamont Street – just three of blocks from where he was convicted of murdering Lenny Curtis.

There were two other men in the car with Mr. Smith. From their location, the officers watched as a man nodded his head at the car. Mr. Smith stopped the car in the middle of the street in order to talk to the man who, after speaking with Mr. Smith, went around to the passenger side of the car and exchanged a large sum of cash wrapped in a rubber band for suspected illegal narcotics. Mr. Smith then drove his car away.

When the under cover officers caught up with Mr. Smith a few blocks later, they observed three men moving about the cabin of the car and around the center console where they observed a wad of cash - $1600 in all – sitting on the lap of the rear passenger. Police placed all three men under arrest and a search of the men and the center console of the car revealed 17 grams of cocaine in rock and powder form, 5 grams of heroin, 8 grams of a cutting agent called mannitol, a digital scale with cocaine residue on it, and a loaded .38 caliber handgun.

Both the Office of the State’s Attorney and the Office of Parole and Probation requested Judge Sylvester Cox issue a Violation of Probation warrant shortly after on the events of April 9, 2007.

Because the defendant faced a maximum sentence of 28 years, 8 months for a violation of his probation to Judge Cox, the State elected to proceed with the violation of probation hearing first and try that case directly to Judge Cox instead of proceeding with a jury trial on the felony narcotics and handgun charges.

On December 7, 2007, the Defendant was brought before Judge Cox to answer for the charges of violating his probation. At that time, Mr. Smith elected to enter into a plea agreement with the State. He admitted guilt to possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute it, and to the illegal possession of a handgun. In addition he also admitted to violating the terms of his probation.

In delivering his sentence on these cases, Judge Cox recalled his admonishment to the defendant during the sentencing hearing on the murder and attempted murder cases and that he would sentence the defendant to all 28-years for a violation, even a technical one. Judge Cox went on to say that this was more than just a technical violation and then proceeded to sentence the defendant to 28-years to the Department of Correction for violating the terms of his probation and to 20-years to the Department of Correction for the possession with intent to distribute cocaine and 5-years without parole for illegally possessing the handgun. All of the sentences will be served concurrently.

Assistant State’s Attorney E. Wesley Adams prosecuted the case.


baltiless said...

I'm all for putting hoodlums in jail for good, but did anyone else do a double take with that sentencing dichotomy? 20 years for cocaine but only 5 years for illegally possessing a handgun? You know, those things that tend to be used to actually commit murder (which this guy already tried twice).

ppatin said...

Those 5 years on the handgun are w/o parole, unlike the 20 years for the coke. That makes the disparity somewhat less significant.

This is a great story though, it's nice to see them get a scumbag for once.

Franca Muller said...

Hey Marcie, I'm a Goucher student who is coordinating a panel discussion for next semester with the topic of violent crime in Baltimore City. How could I contact you to discuss if you'd like take part in it?

Maurice Bradbury said...

Franca, there's a "contact" button at the bottom of the main page.