Reporting Gigi Barnett
TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)— Life without parole. It’s the sentence prosecutors asked for in the case of two men accused of gunning down a man at Towson Town Center.
Gigi Barnett reports the judge considered where the crime happened.
Life without parole is the fate of Frank Theodore Williams, 32, and William Ward III, 45.
A Baltimore County judge handed down the sentence Friday morning after prosecutors proved last month that the two masterminded a gang-related hit on Rodney Pridget Jr.
Pridget, 19, was murdered Dec. 19, 2011 outside the Towson Town Center Mall.
Ward and Williams were convicted by a jury on Sept. 5 of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony for the killing.
Investigators say Williams ordered Pridget’s murder because he believed Pridget had shot his cousin.
“It was a horrible pre-meditated murder in which they tracked down the victim and executed him,” said Scott Shellenberger, State’s Attorney.
Prosecutors say in light of both defendants’ lengthy criminal records, they asked for the long sentence.
In court, Judge Robert Cahill Jr. granted the request, saying: “This was a highly coordinated killing of a child. It doesn’t get any worse with this. And there was ample opportunity for these defendants to not go forward with this.”
“They clearly do not deserve to walk free on the streets of Maryland again,” Shellenberger said.
But the defendants’ family members say the portrait painted of both men during trial isn’t accurate. They pleaded with the judge to show mercy.
“The way the judge portrayed him today, was a monster. My cousin Frank Williams is no one’s monster,”said Desaree Autry-Forrester.
While passing down the sentence the judge considered the place of the crime. It happened at a crowded mall during the holiday season.
During trial, jurors heard from suspect Jermell Brandon–who took a plea deal– and testified that he spotted Pridget at the mall and called Williams and fellow gang member Ward. Prosecutors showed jurors mall surveillance tapes showing Williams and Ward following the victim through the mall and then pointing him out to the accused gunman, who followed Pridget out of the mall and shot him near the Nordstrom parking lot.
“This was not only an execution that was targeted, there were so many people around that all it would take was one missed shot and another individual could have gotten injured or killed,” Shellenberger said.
The alleged shooter, 20-year-old Tyrone Brown, goes on trial next year. Prosecutors say they’ll ask for life without parole for him too.