For months, Vincent “Vicious V” Curtis had taunted fellow local DJ Brandon Harris, known as DJ B-Eazy, threatening him and provoking him to fight, according to Harris’ attorney.
On May 12, Curtis’ text messages contained a countdown: In two hours. Curtis said, he was going to beat Harris up. Then one hour. Then a half-hour.
Curtis, 53, put the threats into action, pursuing Harris when he got off work and cornering him with a metal pipe. Harris, armed with a handgun, fired a warning shot, then shot Curtis in the chest.
Harris, 34, was arrested in May and charged with second-degree murder, but was acquitted last week after a bench trial in which his lawyer argued that the killing was self-defense.
“I think the courts saw it the way that most people logically would see it,” said the attorney, James Rhodes. “Most people I spoke to in the DJ community had the same thing to say about the victim — that he was a bully.”
Judge Edward R.K. Hargadon heard the case, and returned the verdict on Nov. 20, according to court records.
The Baltimore state’s attorney’s office stood by its decision to pursue a murder conviction.
“Our assessment of the the case was centered around Mr. Curtis not only being shot but also beaten excessively with a pole after he was shot,” Melba Saunders, a spokeswoman for the city prosecutor’s office, said in a statement. “In this case, the justice system played out and a judge, well within his right, determined that that the killing of Mr. Curtis was legally justified.”
Harris was convicted of a misdemeanor handgun charge for possessing the gun, which he bought on the street for protection, Rhodes said.
The shooting occurred around 4 a.m. in the 1200 block of Bloomfield Ave. in the Violetville neighborhood. Police said at the time that the shooting “stemmed from an ongoing dispute.”
Rhodes said that after taunting Harris for hours the night of the shooting, Curtis showed up outside his job. He videotaped himself calling out Harris in the parking lot — video that was shown at the trial.
As Harris left work, Curtis pursued him, trying to run him off the road, according to video presented at the trial, Rhodes said.
Harris ended up on a dead-end street, and Curtis confronted him with the pipe. Rhodes said the video shows Harris fired a warning shot, and Curtis can be seen checking himself to make sure he has not been struck. Then he continues to move toward Harris.
Rhodes said his client was a “good guy” with no criminal record. He remains incarcerated but could be released soon based on time already served, Rhodes said.