Shooting Suspect Blames Alleged Co-Conspirator for Hit on Teen
Jermell Brandon took the witness stand in the trial of alleged co-conspirators accused of murdering a teenager last December.
(Updated 5:45 p.m.)—A suspect in the fatal December shooting at Towson Town Center said his alleged co-conspirator Frank Williams ordered the hit against a Baltimore teen.
Jermell Brandon made the statement Tuesday morning while on the witness stand at Circuit Court for the trial against Williams, 31, and William Ward III, 44, who are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree murder and first-degree assault.
Brandon, Williams, Ward and another man, alleged shooter Tyrone Brown, were arrested in February in connection with the death of 19-year-old Rodney Vest Pridget.
Pridget was found dead outside Nordstrom at Towson Town Center.
In exchange for his testimony, Brandon, who originally faced a possible sentence of life without parole, struck a plea deal with prosecutors and will plead guilty to conspiracy in federal court—a count that carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence without parole.
In later testimony, Detective Chris Hodnicki of the police gang enforcement unit, said Ward and Williams held ranks in the Black Guerilla Family, a nationwide gang which boasts "thousands of members in and out of custody," he said in testimony. Brown, he said, was a member as well.
He said Ward contributed under the pseudonym "Comrade Doc Ward" to "The Black Book: Empowering Black Families and Communities," a book federal prosecutors have tied to gang recruitment.
According to testimony, Williams, Ward and Brandon, along with with several other men, met at Williams' house in Halethorpe following news that Pridget had shot Dustin Smith, a man Brandon identified as Williams' cousin.
Brandon told the court that the men agreed that if any of them should see Pridget, the others would be contacted and that they would "get him."
Testimony corroborated the timeline of the events of Dec. 19 when the murder occurred, noted in charging documents presented in court on Wednesday.
Brandon told the court that he first spotted Rodney Pridget while shopping at Downtown Locker Room with his cousin, Crystal Harris, at which point he contacted Williams.
Williams, Ward then came to the mall and met Brandon while alleged shooter Tyrone Brown waited in a vehicle. Brandon received a call from Harris that she had spotted Pridget at the Nordstrom Rack and the three men made their way toward the store, Brandon said.
Williams broke off from the group and made a phone call while Brandon and Ward followed Pridget to the door leading outside of the mall. The alleged shooter, Tyrone Brown came down an escalator and walked outside after Pridget, he said.
Brown came back into Nordstrom a short time later and the men left the mall, Brandon said. Brandon and Ward got into a "hack"—an illegal taxi cab—while Brown got into a burgundy Lexus.
Williams called Brandon and told him he wasn't sure where the Lexus was parked. A short time later Williams arrived at the hack cab with Crystal Harris, Harris got into the car and Ward, Brandon and Harris left.
Later in the day, police heard testimony from a police phone record analyst who broke down the timeline of calls to and from phones tied to suspects in the case from the night of the incident.
Prosecutors wrapped for the day by bringing back Detective James Lambert, who told the jury about interviewing Williams a fourth time following his Feb. 1 arrest. Williams waived his Miranda rights and identified a picture of Ward as the man he had referred to in interviews as "Unc," which led to an arrest warrant for Ward, the last of the four to be arrested.
On Friday, Lambert's testimony will continue with video of his Feb. 2 interview with Ward. Prosecutors told Judge Edward Cahill Jr. before the court went into an evening recess that they intend to finish their case Friday.