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AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC at 410-209-4885
October 27, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SOLOTHAL THOMAS AND EDWARD COUNTESS SENTENCED TO LIFE
FOR MURDER-FOR-HIRE SCHEME
BALTIMORE, Maryland - Solothal Thomas, a/k/a “Itchy Man,” age 30, and Edward Countess, a/k/a “Bam,” age 30, both of Baltimore were sentenced today to life plus 10 years in federal prison after being convicted on July 6, 2006 on five counts relating to their participation in a 2001 murder-for-hire in Baltimore County, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake said that the sentence was, "what the statute required, what the advisory guidelines required, and what justice required." She referred to the crime as, "a cold-blooded murder for hire” and called this, “an important, efficient, and effective prosecution."
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein stated, "Solothal Thomas and Edward Countess join a growing list of armed criminals who have been exiled to federal prison for the rest of their lives. In the federal system, a life sentence means life in a federal prison far from home, with no probation and no parole. These vicious contract killers are now off the streets - forever. Under Baltimore EXILE, we are targeting our city's most violent repeat offenders and holding them accountable for their crimes in federal court."
Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Gregory K. Gant said, “The successful investigation and prosecution of these armed violent criminals demonstrates how the ATF and its law enforcement partners will not tire until we put the "worst of the worst" violent offenders in jail for the rest of their lives.”
Baltimore City Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm said, “We are proud to have partnered with prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office to ensure that Solothal Thomas will spend the rest of his natural life in prison. This is a great day for the law-abiding residents of Baltimore.”
Evidence at the trial, which began on June 12, 2006, established that on October 2, 2001, Solothal Thomas and Edward Countess shot and killed Jesse Williams, then age 33, in the 8200 block of Courtland Manor Road in Baltimore County. Testimony at trial proved that Thomas and Countess ambushed Williams as he got into his car to go to work and shot him 15 times, pursuant to a contract murder ordered by Baltimore City drug dealer Tyree Stewart in retaliation for a 1999 robbery. Thomas, Countess and three other men were paid a total of $10,000 for their roles in planning and carrying out the murder.
Thomas and Countess were sentenced to three concurrent terms of life in prison for murder-for-hire; conspiracy to commit a murder-for-hire; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime or violent crime resulting in death; 20 years concurrent for conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime or crime of violence; and mandatory consecutive 10 years for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime or violent crime. Countess was sentenced to an additional concurrent life term for conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
Danta Thomas, age 34, and Linwood Smith, age 42, both of Baltimore, were also charged in this case and previously pleaded guilty to charges relating to their participation in the murder. Tyree Stewart, age 32, of Joppa, Maryland and Corey Smith, age 30, of Baltimore both pleaded guilty in a separate case to engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and as part of their pleas admitted to having ordered a contract killing on behalf of their drug organization. Their sentencings have not been scheduled.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the investigative work performed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Baltimore City Police Department; the Baltimore County Police Department; and the United States Attorney’s Office. The U.S. Marshals Service also assisted in the apprehension of Solothal Thomas. Mr. Rosenstein also thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason M. Weinstein and Andrea L. Smith, who are prosecuting the case.
This page last modifiedOctober 27, 2006