Life without parole for two men guilty in Towson mall shooting

Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Robert Cahill Jr. on Friday sentenced William Ward III and Frank Williams to life in prison without the possibility of parole for their roles in the December 2011 murder of Rodney Pridget outside the Towson Town Center mall.

"By any measure, this crime is at the very top of the list of craven, unfeeling, audacious horrors that we see in our criminal cases," Cahill said shortly before handing down the sentence.

Ward, 45, and Williams, 32, were found guilty last month of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony.

The convictions were the result of a prosecution which used video surveillance and cell phone records to convince teh jury that the men and their co-conspirators, Jermell Brandon, 35, and alleged gunman Tyrone Brown, 20, spotted, stalked and ultimately took part in the shooting death of Pridget, 19, outside the Nordstrom store.

Cahill said the evidence showed "an extraordinary amount of planning and deliberation" on the part of the killers, who conspired against Pridget because of a role they allege he had taken in a robbery shooting of Williams' cousin earlier that month.

"(We have) a 32-year-old and a 45-year-old actively causing the death of a child," Cahill said. "As well, you have, at least allegedly, the use of another 18-year-old to commit the act. It doesn't get worse than this."

Cahill suspended sentencing on the charges of conspiracy to commit murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony.

Before the sentence, Deputy State's Attorney Robin Coffin laid out the pair's criminal history. Coffin said Ward served less than five years of a 15-year sentence for a set of armed robbery convictions in 1987. Shortly after he was released from that prison term, Ward was again arrested for robbery and sent back to prison in 1993, where he remained until the summer of 2011 — just seven months before Pridget's murder.

Williams has previously served time for drug distribution and handgun charges, with his most recent prison stint ending in January 2010.

Hoss Parvisian, the public defender who represented Williams, said there was "no mitigating the facts around the event, and given Mr. Williams' record, there's not much mitigating Mr. Williams."

Instead, he asked for mercy on behalf of Williams and hope for his family that they would one day see him outside of prison.

Ward's attorney, Michelle Moodispaw, stressed that her client made a "positive impact" in the community after his release from prison in the summer of 2011, and Cahill heard statements from Ward's pastor, Bryant Baker, as well as two young men — Keonte Wilson and Michael Smith — who said Ward served as a father figure to them and others in the community.

However, Cahill said Ward's record was "among the worst I've ever seen."

"Wherever life takes either of these defendants … there will be violence, destruction, brutality and human bloodshed," Cahill said.

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