By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun
4:01 PM EDT, April 4, 2014
A Baltimore County man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in connection with the shooting and stabbing death of a man who was on the phone with 911 when he was attacked in a wooded area of Glen Burnie last January.
A jury in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court on Friday found Eric Banks guilty of second-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Darren Bell of Curtis Bay, but found him not guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and gun charges.
Judge Philip T. Caroom sentenced Banks to the maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Caroom said the jury apparently wasn't convinced Banks shot Bell, but believed he was responsible for stabbing Bell with the "most brutal imaginable use of a knife."
Assistant State's Attorney Kelly Poma had alleged Banks killed Bell in the early hours of Jan. 27, 2013 over a $200 drug debt involving Banks' daughter, Erica Banks.
Police said after a night of drinking and dancing, Erica Banks, Bell and Tremain Calhoun Jr. wound up in a wooded area of Marley Neck in Glen Burnie.
Poma played recordings in court of two 911 calls she said Bell made that night. In the first, a man whispered repeatedly: "Trace this call." In the second, he told the operator he thought he was about to be killed. A shot and screams were then audible on the recording.
Police officers testified they arrived a short time later and found Erica Banks and Calhoun sitting in an SUV. Eric Banks emerged from the woods with blood on his hand and pants, police said. Police found Bell in the woods with a gunshot wound and more than 20 knife wounds. He died at the scene.
Calhoun, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, testified he saw Eric Banks raise his hand toward Bell and heard a gunshot. Eric Banks later told Calhoun to give him a knife and stabbed Bell, Calhoun claimed.
Bell's mother, Katrina Bell, said during sentencing that the loss of her son has shaken the family. He was the father of a son and had a daughter on the way when he was killed. "My heart is just broken and torn right now," she said.
Erica Banks' trial is scheduled for later this month. Calhoun will be sentenced after he testifies in her trial.
Public defender William Davis said he plans to file a motion for a new trial for Eric Banks, on the grounds that he should have asked to have the jury consider manslaughter as an option in their deliberations.
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