Judge Imposes Life Sentences Without Parole for Two Convicted in the Thanksgiving 2006 Murder of Federal Witness John Dowery and the Murders of Two Others
Baltimore, Maryland - After a twelve-person federal jury was unable to reach an unanimous verdict as to whether to impose the death penalty for Melvin Gilbert, age 34, and James Dinkins, a/k/a “Miami,” age 36, both of Baltimore, U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Gilbert to five consecutive mandatory life sentences, plus 40 years and sentenced Dinkins to four consecutive mandatory life sentences, plus 40 years, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. On June 11, 2009 the jury found Gilbert and Dinkins guilty of the murders of federal witness John Dowery and Shannon Jemmison, and also convicted Dinkins of the murder of Michael Bryant and a non-fatal shooting of John Dowery on October 19, 2005.
“John Dowery stood up to violent criminals and tried to make the city a better place for his children,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Whatever is the most serious punishment available, that is what you will get if you attack a witness. We will seek the most serious punishment in the most serious cases.”
Amy Jo Lyons, Special Agent-in-Charge of Federal Bureau of Investigation said "Witness intimidation in any form and especially in its most heinous form as demonstrated in this case, will be dealt with severely by my agency, our federal prosecutors and our law enforcement partners within the Baltimore Police Department. The FBI in Maryland is committed to bringing individuals participating in these crimes to justice."
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy said, “The strength of the partnership between the State’s Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office makes it possible for us to pursue justice for John Dowery and other witnesses who are willing to come forward to testify. Anyone who attempts to intimidate a witness will be prosecuted using all the tools we have available.”
According to testimony at the five week trial, from June 2002 to February 2007, Gilbert operated a drug distribution organization known as “Special” that sold heroin, cocaine and marijuana on the streets of Baltimore. The evidence showed that the defendants, along with co-defendant Darron Goods, a/k/a “Moo-man,” age 23, of Baltimore, committed acts of violence to protect the drug organization and retaliate against and intimidate potential witnesses who interfered with drug operations. All three men were convicted of conspiracy to distribute drugs and related gun charges.
Witnesses testified at trial that Gilbert knew that John Dowery was cooperating with law enforcement authorities in the federal investigation and prosecution of members of their drug distribution conspiracy. Gilbert and Goods shot and killed John Dowery on November 23, 2006 to prevent Dowery from testifying and providing information to federal law enforcement about drug trafficking by the members of “Special.” Witnesses also testified that Gilbert suspected that Shannon Jemmison was cooperating with law enforcement authorities in the federal investigation and prosecution of Howard Rice and Raeshio Rice, who were charged in February 2005 with violations of federal racketeering and narcotics laws. Testimony showed that Gilbert directed Dinkins to kill Jemmison to prevent Jemmison from cooperating in the Rice prosecution. Jemmison was shot and killed on September 10, 2005. Witnesses testified that on November 10, 2005, Dinkins also shot and killed Michael Bryant over a gun dispute related to the “Special” organization.
Darron Goods, who was also convicted for the murder of John Dowery, was not involved in the penalty phase, and faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Judge Motz scheduled Goods’ sentencing for August 10, 2009 at 9:00 a.m.
Co-defendants Tracy Love, a/k/a “Boo Boo,” age 24 and Tamall Parker, a/k/a “Mo-Mo,” age 22, both of Essex, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and use of a of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime resulting in death. They face a maximum penalty of life in prison on the murder charge and a minimum mandatory sentence of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison on the drug conspiracy charge. Randy McLean, Jr., a/k/a “Blade,” age 31, of Nottingham, Maryland, pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy and faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison. All three are awaiting sentencing. Cornell Booker, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and was sentenced on November 20, 2007 to 66 months in prison.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy and Assistant State’s Attorneys Antonio Gioia and Lisa Goldberg, the Baltimore Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Debra Dwyer and Kwame J. Manley, who are prosecuting the case.