A great frustration of daily crime reporting is that when readers want to know the most about a shooting incident or other crime, there's often very little information available. You end up with a few paragraphs about where and when, the victim's age, and the standard line that police are investigating.
That's why we scour court documents looking for cases that may - even if indirectly - shed new light on some of those incidents. Earlier this week, a 66-page affidavit in a broad drug conspiracy case was made available, and while the document consists of transcriptions of mostly bland, intercepted drug conversations, the DEA also picked up their targets discussing recent shootings in East Baltimore's Latrobe Homes area.
On March 29, at about 10:53 a.m., authorities were listening in as Corey Donnell Brown, 38, also known as "Slug," and Damond Terrell Brown, 35, known as "Ray Ray," spoke on the phone and talked about a shooting of Brandon Branch, according to the affidavit. Branch, 25, who police said is known around the neighborhood as "Horse," was shot a day earlier, in the 900 block of Valley Street, and, according to the affidavit, ran for help to a home in the 900 block of Wilmont Court that the DEA believes Brown was using as a stash house. The men appeared concerned that Branch running there would draw unwanted attention.
"Oh man, I know you heard what happened," Damond Brown asked, according to the transcript.
"Nah, what happened?" Corey Brown asked.
"Man, that n----r Horse got shot in his face yo," Damond Brown said.
"I don't know yo. Then he tried run up in here yo. I said boy do not run up in here."
"Why he tried going, why everytime something happen they try to run in the house?" Corey Brown said.
"Man, I shut the door on his ass yo. I shut the door on him yo."
"Them n----r's beefin' or something?"
"I don't know yo, I don't know nuttin'," Damond Brown said.
"That s--t crazy yo," Corey Brown said.
"Too crazy. N----rs be stupid yo," Damond Brown said.
Later, Corey Brown told Damond Brown that he made the right decision not to let Branch in, according to the court records.
"That's all you can do," he said. "You did right yo. I'm glad you didn't let him in. Homicide would have been all up in that bitch, you heard me?"
"Yeah man. Shut the door. And I, and I thought about it. I was like yo, I hope he don't feel like I did him wrong by not letting him in, yo. I said yo, I said I know better yo. I said this ain't my first trip to the rodeo dog. I said I'm not going to have this n----r in here yo on this bulls--t, in this house."
Branch survived the shooting - according to court documents, he was arrested about a month later and is pending trial on a drug possession case.
The next day, a 59-year-old named Chauncey Hardy was fatally shot in the 900 block of E. Valley St. According to the affidavit, Hardy was the suspect in Branch's shooting, and his killing was believed to be retaliation. Corey Brown was captured in a phone conversation that night, at about 11:26 p.m., talking to Cornelius Roberts Bey, 38, about the shooting, which Roberts observed from a car on nearby Ensor Street.
"Alright I was just sittin' in the car. Madness going on. ... I'm right here on Ensor and [inaudible]. You say you already know, huh?"
"Yeah, that was old boy, wasn't it?" Brown said.
"Yeah," Roberts said.
"Crazy for coming back ain't he yo," Brown said.
"He was just tired yo, .. Believe it or not I sat in the window and watchin' him walk up the street, for real. I said damn, he back around here. He's late night trying to sneak up in the building, that's what I thought."
Police later charged a man named Herbert Mayes, 26, with first-degree murder in connection with Hardy's death. Police wrote in charging documents in that case that witnesses said Mayes, known as "Mak," and two other males were seen arguing with Hardy. Mayes pulled out a handgun from his waistband and shot Hardy, who fell to his stomach and was shot several more times, police wrote in charging documents.
Mayes, of the 900 block of E. Lombard St. ran southeast toward Ashland Court, disappearing from view, police said. Witnesses picked Mayes out of a lineup "without hesitation" and police wrote in court papers that city surveillance cameras corroborated their statements.
Though the violence played out in East Baltimore, the homes to be searched in the drug case are mostly in Baltimore County. The search warrant asks the court for permission to search residences in Cockeysville, Owings Mills, Turner's Station, Rosedale, and Parkville, as well as homes in North Baltimore, East Baltimore, West Baltimore, and Edgewood in Harford County.