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Jury finds Army soldier guilty of killing his wife, a young private at Fort Meade

Army Sgt. Maliek Kearney was found guilty Thursday in what prosecutors said was an elaborate plot that ended with his wife shot to death and their baby placed beside her.

Kearney, 37, was convicted of the federal crime of crossing state lines to commit domestic violence resulting in death. He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced in November.

The case brings the second conviction in the 2015 killing of Karlyn Ramirez, a 24-year-old Army private stationed at Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County. Police found her shot to death in the bedroom of her Severn townhouse in August 2015. The couple’s 4-month-old daughter was found unharmed beside Ramirez’s body.

Kearney’s mistress, Dolores Delgado, 33, of Florida, pleaded guilty last year to the same federal crime. She also faces up to life in prison when she is sentenced in September.

Kearney’s attorney, Teresa Whalen, declined to comment.

During Kearney’s two-week trial in federal court in Baltimore, prosecutors detailed his alleged plan with Delgado to kill Ramirez, cover their tracks and stage her death to look like a sexual assault. Police found Ramirez with her underwear pulled down to her ankles.

Ramirez grew up in Texas and enlisted in the Army in 2013. She was deployed to Korea, where she met Kearney one year later. She was his subordinate, so their romance was prohibited by the Army. Once she became pregnant with his child, Ramirez was sent to Fort Meade. She gave birth to their daughter and lived in the Lake Village Townhomes rental complex.

Prosecutors said that on the evening of Aug. 24, 2015, someone shoved a revolver against her body and fired three times: once into her side, twice into her chest. She was shot at point-blank range to muffle the sound. The killer then placed her baby beside her. Maintenance workers called police after discovering an open glass door at the townhouse.

Prosecutors told the jury Kearney drove up from his home near Fort Jackson in South Carolina, killed his wife, then drove home. He was back at work the next day at Fort Jackson.

The couple had been married the month before Ramirez was killed, but their tumultuous marriage was falling apart. Both had been unfaithful, prosecutors said.

They said Ramirez wanted a divorce, and that she blocked his phone number and sought a protective order from the Army. Kearney was enraged, texting her more than 900 times over two days, prosecutors said. They showed jurors dozens of the texts: threats, pleas, rants, confessions.

“I am just getting hulk mad,” he texted her.

Kearney’s defense attorneys tried to convince jurors that Delgado, also an Army veteran, was responsible for Ramirez’s death. They portrayed her as a vengeful mistress, someone who raised pythons, could handle an M16, and wanted her rival dead.

“She would have had her man and a baby as well,” Whalen told the jury.

Delgado testified as a government witness. She told jurors she tracked her mileage to help Kearney determine how much gas he would need to drive from his home in South Carolina to Maryland. She bought two 5-gallon gas cans from Home Depot, she said, so he wouldn’t have to stop at a gas station and risk being seen. Delgado said she lent him her Nissan Altima, which was less conspicuous than his Jaguar.

She said she later burned his clothes and threw the revolver off a fishing pier in Florida.

Delgado said she didn’t believe Kearney actually would kill his wife.

“I believed there was some chance of Karlyn [Ramirez] seeing Mr. Kearney and working things out,” she told the jury. “I told him that he wasn’t going to do anything … that everything would be fine.”

But she knew when he returned home with her car and gun. He was shaken, she said.

“He had his hands on his head,” she told jurors. “He said that he couldn’t believe that he just left her laying there.”

tprudente@baltsun.com

twitter.com/Tim_Prudente

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