Baltimore man who ordered witness killing sentenced to 35 years behind bars

A 25-year-old Baltimore man who pleaded guilty to murder-for-hire and witness-murder conspiracy charges this year in the 2011 killing of a 19-year-old associate was sentenced Monday to 35 years behind bars, plus five years of supervised release, according to the Maryland U.S. attorney's office.

Tavon Dameon Davis ordered the hit on 19-year-old Isiah Callaway after Callaway was arrested trying to open fraudulent bank accounts in Baltimore County in December 2010, prosecutors said. Davis, Callaway, and Frank Marfo, 28, arranged a scheme to hire homeless people to steal rent deposit checks from apartment complexes and deposit them in the fake accounts, according to prosecutors.

A fourth man, Michael Copeland, was granted immunity in the case for cooperating in the murder investigation.

Fearful that Callaway would cooperate with investigators, and under the false impression the fraud scheme would put him behind bars for two decades, Callaway began holding discussions with Marfo and Bruce Eric Byrd, 27, about killing Callaway, prosecutors said.

On April 11, 2011, Byrd shot Callaway with a semi-automatic handgun at close range while the teenager sat in a car in the city's Broadway East neighborhood, according to Davis' plea deal, and was paid a total of $2,000 by Davis and Marfo.

Byrd pleaded guilty to using a gun in the murder in July and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Marfo was convicted of murder conspiracy and bank fraud in August, and sentenced to life in prison.

The fraud scheme resulted in at least $1 million in total in fake accounts, prosecutors said.

After Callaway's killing, Davis learned that the fraud would likely have only netted him three or four years behind bars, according to court documents.

"Killing that kid was the stupidest thing in the world," he later told Copeland in a recorded phone conversation, court documents show.

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