His girlfriend drove on, rowhouses and concrete giving way to detached homes and patches of grass.

They approached a white, two-story house on Philadelphia Road. A skinny man was outside, wearing what looked like a plaid black and red shirt. He raised his hand in a sort of wave, as if to say, "It's me."

The two cars drove past, then the Camaro doubled back.

Lackl saw the green car slowing and walked toward it, hopeful that these kids would come through and buy the car.

Cornish silently clutched the gun.

Lackl leaned toward the boy's window.

The teen shot twice, then threw his arm outside the car to shoot Lackl one last time on the ground. The Camaro took off.

Lackl lay on his left side in the street, in front of his house, a river of blood forming. His sister, who lived in the apartment upstairs, rushed to him. She held her brother while he died.

At 9:30 p.m., county homicide detectives arrived. Their investigation homed in on Lackl's caller I.D. and eventually focused on an afternoon call about the car.

It would only take a few days to find the owner of the phone used to make that call: Pearson, who had mistakenly used his personal cell.

Victim's car on TV
But on the morning after Lackl's murder, Pearson was still free and two grand richer. He had slipped Cornish and the other boys $100 each the night before and partied, drinking and smoking pot.

His girlfriend awoke early on July 3, in a $400 room at a downtown Marriott, to find Pearson watching television intently. She wasn't quite sure what had happened the day before and thought maybe the boys had robbed the Rosedale man or taken his car.

She hadn't asked.

It was still dark in the hotel room, the only light coming from the TV, which was tuned to the news - and a shot of the Rosedale man's car on the screen. Pearson's girlfriend sat up.

"What you do?"

Figures in murder plot

Marcus Pearson gradually unveiled the scheme to murder witness Carl Lackl and the roles that conspirators played. Eight people have been convicted in the crime:

Patrick "Pat" Albert Byers Jr., 24. He ordered Lackl's death to keep the Rosedale man from testifying against him. Found guilty this month and could be sentenced to death.

Frank Keith Goodman, 23. He acted as Byers' agent, pulling Pearson in. He was found guilty of conspiring to murder a witness and will be sentenced in July. Faces life in prison.

Marcus "Pound" Antwan Pearson, 28. He organized the contract killing and pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Expected to receive a 35-year sentence in exchange for cooperating with federal prosecutors.

Steven "Trigga" Thompson, 28. He recommended Johnathan Cornish as the shooter. He pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme, though the details are sealed. Awaiting sentencing.

Johnathan "Brazy" Ryan Cornish, 17. He murdered Lackl. Pleaded guilty and is expected to receive a 40-year sentence in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors.

Michael "Killa" Jerome Randle, 20. He tagged along with Cornish to see the murder. Pleaded guilty, though the details are sealed; awaiting sentencing.

Tammy Sherie Graham, 25. Pearson's girlfriend, pleaded guilty to lying to police after the slaying and is now free.

Ronald Wendell Williams, 23. Driver of the Camaro, pleaded guilty in the scheme, though the details are sealed. Awaiting sentencing.

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