Saturday, September 12, 2009

Surprise Guilty Plea for Murder of Deron Hope, 16

An exceptionally verbose and compelling PR from the SAO:
Baltimore, MD – September 11, 2009 – The murder trial of William Key, AKA Anthony Banks, 21, of the 300 block of E. Lafayette Avenue ended in a hung jury Thursday following 3 days of deliberations and a 5 day trial. Then suddenly, mid-afternoon yesterday, Key pled guilty before the Honorable Timothy J. Doory. After the jury’s inability to reach a unanimous decision by one vote, based on what jurors reported was a public defender seated on the jury and the lone holdout juror, Key entered a guilty plea to the second degree murder of Deron Hope and use of a handgun in a crime of violence. Judge Doory sentenced Key to 40 years in prison, 30 years for the second degree murder to be served consecutive to a 10 year sentence for the use of a handgun in a crime of violence. Prosecutor Terry Shaffer read a poignant note of remembrance written by Hope’s mother as part of her victim impact statement, as she sobbed quietly on a courtroom bench, unable to speak in court.

A co-defendant, Kenneth Robbins, pled guilty May 13, 2009 to second-degree murder and is pending sentencing scheduled November 23, 2009 before the Honorable Martin Welch, Room 228 Courthouse East. During court proceedings in May, Key was held in contempt for assaulting Robbins while they sat side by side awaiting the court proceedings.

Through evidence and witnesses, the State showed that Key was a member of the Black Guerilla [sic] Family (BGF) gang and that he had been trying to recruit Kenny Robbins into the gang. Kenny was reluctant because he knew he would have to take a “beat down”, subjecting himself to a brutal gang beating, so Key told Kenny there were other ways to achieve status in the BGF gang, including murder. Deron Hope was not known to either defendant, and his murder was a random act of violence. The Baltimore City Grand Jury indicted Keys and Robbins on November 28, 2007 for first-degree murder and handgun counts.

Facts and evidence presented during opening statements, during the trial and subsequent plea, showed that at the time of the murder on October 13, 2007, Deron Hope was a rising football star who was being recruited by Mount St. Joseph’s High School. He did not know the defendants, and was shot at point blank range as part of a Black Guerrilla Family gang recruitment initiation for a new gang member, while spending the day with friends. At the time of the murder defendant Key was under a court commitment order to the Department of Juvenile Services and living with his grandmother in the Latrobe community.

On October 13, 2007, Deron spent the day hanging out with two girls in the 1700 block of Latrobe Street. Deron Hope, aka BJ, was a junior student with outstanding football talent, a tight end and running back, with offers from Mount St. Joseph High School. Around midnight, when sitting on steps outside with friends, 2 friends got up to go into the house to get shoes and money, when shots were fired. They ran back to look out the door and saw William Key and Kenneth Robbins, a co-defendant, running up Latrobe Street. Key appeared to be tucking something into his pocket. During testimony they recalled that earlier that evening they noticed the two at another house in the 1700 block of Latrobe Street and that at some point they left and eventually returned.

William Key lived with his grandmother at 326 E. Lafayette, about 300 feet from where the body of Deron Hope was found. A neighbor of Key testified that as he was getting ready for bed around midnight and heard someone jumping over his fence. The next morning, before leaving for work, the neighbor found two guns in the back yard. The neighbor placed the guns in a box, took them into the house, and called the police.

The two guns recovered were a .38 caliber revolver, and a .38 caliber bullet was recovered from below the victim’s right eye. A revolver does not eject a casing. There were 4 live bullets in the .38 and one spent casing. Key’s DNA was found on the handle of the gun. The DNA from the trigger was not conclusive, but was consistent with Key’s DNA. The second gun was a .22 caliber semi automatic that ejects a cartridge. A .22 caliber casing was recovered from the scene with the same characteristics as the gun found in the neighbor’s yard and the second bullet recovered from the victim’s skull was consistent with this gun.

Deron was shot twice, once by each gun. He was shot in the head at point blank range, in the face and through his earlobe. The State was able to confirm this through the testimony of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and co-defendant Kenny Robbins. Robbins lived with his Aunt at in the 200 block of E. Lafayette. He had watched the police recover the guns and knew it was just a matter of time [ED: how does the SAO know what he knew?] before he was implicated. When police came he was mirandized, waived his rights and told police what had happened.

Assistant State’s Attorney Theresa Shaffer of the Homicide Division prosecuted this case.


Anonymous said...

How could a public defender get on to the jury? Was the DA sleeping? Or is there no jury review in this court?

Cham said...

Normally they ask whether anyone works for the prosecutors office or the public defenders office. The public defender might have been holding out just for sport.

Anonymous said...

I am the supervisor of the public defender in question. There was no voir dire question from the State asking if any public defenders were on the panel. The parties realized his/her occupation after he/she was seated, brought it to the judge's attention, and he found the juror did not neglect to disclose anything. Also, the jury was split all over the place on everything from degree of culpability to guilt/innocence. There was no lone holdout.

Anonymous said...

Mel-- maybe your question should be "Was the DA stupid?" There was no holdout; just the SAO's spin to try to deflect attention from an ASA's idiocy.

Cham said...

The jury couldn't have been that split:

After the jury’s inability to reach a unanimous decision by one vote, based on what jurors reported was a public defender seated on the jury and the lone holdout juror,

11 to 1, not split.

Anonymous said...

There was no 11-1, it is all made up. Terry Shaffer is a joke who could not convict a guy who everybody agreed did it because she did not know the facts of her own case, again. Maybe people should be asking why this hack prosecutor is disclosing identities of jurors to the media? Isn't this a form of juror intimidation? Why is Mel Hirshman's Office not involved in this and why is Judge Doory not upset that his jury is getting outed in a MURDER case.

BomTrown said...

Fucking animals. I hope I don't get to be the next unlucky winner of the Baltimore crime lottery.