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Mobtown Beat

Fall Guys

Two Greektown Poker Robbery Suspects Sentenced, Third Goes Free

By Van Smith | Posted 5/30/2007

On March 22, Andre Dwayne Carroll was acquitted by a jury of last year's armed robbery of 23 poker players in Greektown, after his two co-defendants pleaded guilty ("Odd Man Out," Mobtown Beat, April 4). On May 22, the two convicts--Naylor Christian Harrison and Ronnie Lee Jones--faced sentencing in a hearing that brought to light an odd twist in an already bizarre crime story. The attorneys for both defendants told Judge Robert Kershaw something that Carroll's jury never knew: Carroll confessed to the crime in a statement to police after the robbery.

Carroll "had a story for the jury that was very different from the story he had for the police," Harrison's attorney, Gerald Glass, told Kershaw, while Jones' attorney, Kenneth Ravenell, said that Carroll "confessed" to the crime, though his confession "denied that he had a gun." The prosecutors in the case, Jennifer Sites and Jason Knight, remained silent on the matter during the hearing.

Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office spokesman Joseph Sviatko tells City Paper that the decision not to use Carroll's confession was "prosecutorial discretion," and that Sites and Knight "chose not to use it because it wasn't really credible in our view." What's more, he adds, the prosecutors wouldn't call it a "confession," but "a statement that he gave to police that was virtually unusable," even for the purposes of showing Carroll to be a liar when he testified at trial.

Thus, no evidence of Carroll's confession was shared with the jury, even after Carroll took the stand in his own defense and told a story that absolved him of guilt. In essence, Carroll said that he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and had nothing to do with the May 25, 2006, robbery. Jurors also weren't told that the victims' poker game was illegal gambling, and that prosecutors opted not to charge the victims.

Today, Carroll's out free, while Harrison and Jones are going to jail. Harrison received a 14-year sentence, nine years suspended, and five years of supervised probation, while Jones got 10 years, five suspended, and two years of supervised probation. Kershaw ordered medical evaluations of both, to see if they are eligible for long-term drug treatment. Family members of both defendants tearfully asked Kershaw for leniency, but Sites reminded the judge that Jones "was observed holding a gun to the back of a victim's head" and emphasized the violent nature of the crime.

Ravenell also told Kershaw that Jones offered to be a state's witness, but prosecutors didn't take the offer, and added that Jones has "no prior criminal record whatsoever." Court records show that Jones received two years of probation before judgment for assault in 1998, and over the years has avoided convictions for numerous other charges, including car theft, robbery, assault, and a handgun violation. Carroll and Harrison, on the other hand, have lengthy histories of criminal convictions.

None of the victims--including Jason Roth, who bears a scar on his face from being pistol-whipped during the robbery--gave statements at Harrison and Jones' sentencing, and only one, former police officer Thomas Perry, testified at Carroll's trial. Several of the victims have told CP that they intended to testify at trial and give statements at the sentencing. One of the victims, attorney Stephen Prevas (brother of Baltimore Circuit Court Judge John Prevas), appeared at trial and was prepared to testify, but was turned away. Prevas tells CP that he received a court notice of the sentencing, but was not asked by prosecutors to appear at the hearing.

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