Gang leadership or patsies?
That's for a Baltimore County jury to decide as deliberations begin in the case against Frank Theodore Williams of Baltimore Highlands and William Ward III of Waverly. The two stand accused of first-degree murder for their roles in the shooting death of Baltimore teen Rodney Pridget on Dec. 19 outside Towson Town Center.
The jury entered deliberations just after 4 p.m. Friday, following and expert testimony.
In closing statements to the jury, deputy state's attorney Robin Coffin told the jury the two men were "as guilty as if they pulled the trigger" on that December evening. Prosecutors say Williams drove Ward and alleged shooter Tyrone Brown to the mall after receiving a call from alleged co-conspirator Jermell Brandon ().
Surveillance footage shows the men following Pridget through the mall, coordinating with Brandon and eachother by phone.
"It's a plan to execute, and it's executed perfectly," Coffin said in closing remarks. "What they didn't bargain for was 268 cameras in the mall."
Brandon testified Thursday that the killing was the result of a hit placed on Pridget by Williams after Pridget allegedly shot Williams' cousin, and that Brown was "putting in work" to advance his status in the Black Guerilla Family gang, in which Williams and Ward were leaders.
Michelle Moodispaw, Ward's attorney, called the state's case against him "hypothesis and fairy tale." A county police gang expert tied Ward to the Black Guerilla Family gang in part through the use of an alias, "Comrade Doc," in the gang's "Black Book," without saying on the stand what he may have contributed to the text.
"The significance of that book, I submit, is none," she said.
Public defender Hoss Parvizian, Williams' defense attorney, submitted the theory that Williams was the patsy.
"He is considered dumb, he is considered stupid by the members of BGF," Parvizian said.
Some of Williams' to a police detective, Parvizian said, was out of reluctance to be persecuted within his gang-controlled community.
"You don't give up the boss, even if you're not a member of the gang."
The jury members finished deliberations for the day at around 8 p.m. and will resume Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.