Sean Almony, a former leader of a white supremacist prison gang he later sabotaged, will serve 20 more years in prison after an Anne Arundel County judge ordered a new sentence for his 2001 murder conviction.
Almony, also known as Sean Almond, was 17 years old when he and three other people beat and fatally stabbed Mark Miller in a Glen Burnie apartment during a party on Aug. 7, 2001. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for murder and a concurrent life sentence for conspiracy to commit murder. A new state law called the Juvenile Restoration Act forbids judges from sentencing juvenile offenders to life without the possibility of parole and applies to retroactive cases, such as Almony’s.
Judge William Mulford II sentenced Almony, 37, on Tuesday to life in prison with all but 40 years suspended and five years probation. Almony, once a self-proclaimed “Crip,” a notorious gang with a majority Black membership, changed his alliance over his 20 years in various prisons to the Aryan Brotherhood, a neo-Nazi prison gang led in Maryland by Joseph “Nazi Joe” Leissler.
Almony defected from the Aryan Brotherhood in 2016 when Leissler ordered him and three other men to kill O’Sullivan, a member of a rival gang, in retaliation for an assault on an Aryan Brotherhood member that O’Sullivan had no involvement in. Almony, the second in command of the white supremacist group, provided members with a knife and spread the plan on how to kill O’Sullivan but refused to participate in the murder himself. He let his cell doors automatically lock him in when the attack began.
Prosecutors offered Almony immunity for his testimony against Calvin Lockner, Vincent Bunner and Leissler, who did not physically kill O’Sullivan. Brain Hare, along with Lockner and Bunner, wielded handmade knives when they cut and stabbed O’Sullivan 54 times. Assistant State’s Attorney David Russell sought a life sentence with the possibility of parole for Almony. Russell said Tuesday, prosecutors offered him nothing in return for his testimony other than the promise not to prosecute him for crimes he confessed to while on the stand.
Russell admitted Almony’s testimony was instrumental in securing a conviction in Leissler’s case. All four defendants charged with killing O’Sullivan were convicted of murder. Almony explained to a jury in Leissler’s murder trial how the gang recruited members, the religion its members practiced, the strict rules they followed and the dynamics of their extortion scheme. Almony testified he wanted out of the gang and often undermined Leissler’s orders to prevent violent attacks he felt were unnecessary.
Almony’s defense attorney Michael Lawlor described Almony as “groomed” by Leissler to be his second-in-command. Leissler, who was sentenced on Nov. 2 to two life sentences for O’Sullivan’s murder, professed his innocence and maintained that Almony was the mastermind behind O’Sullivan’s death.
Lawlor asked Mulford for a life sentence with all but 25 years suspended, which would leave five years left for Almony to serve. Lawlor pointed to Almony’s troubled childhood, mental health challenges and cooperation with prosecutors, all factors Mulford is encouraged to consider under the Juvenile Restoration Act. Adults who have served 20 years in prison for a crime they committed under the age of 18 can file a motion to reduce the length of their sentence.
“I have grown up, your honor,” Almony told Mulford. “See me as the man I am today and the changes that I’ve made.”
State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said in a statement that Almony choose to testify against the men involved in O’Sullivan’s murder in the hope that a judge would find that he has tried to redeem himself over the past twenty years in prison.
“The State recommended a life sentence for Mr. Almony, as we had originally said we would. The judge decided that in light of his cooperation, and the fact that he has spent the last five years in prison in solitary confinement and at great risk to his own safety for his cooperation, his sentence should be modified to life suspend all but 40 years,” Leitess said in a statement.
Lawlor called Lt. Jeffrey Shimko, a duty officer with the department of corrections, to testify to Almony’s character as an inmate over two decades. Shimko offered a glowing endorsement of the former neo-Nazi gang member when describing Almony’s growth from his late 20s into his 30s. Almony is a target for other Aryan Brotherhood members and has been held in isolation under maximum security.
Shimko detailed the challenges of moving Almony throughout a crowded prison that consequently restricted his ability to go outside to 12 occasions over the past four and a half years.
“I’m confident Mr. Almond would never re-offend,” Shimko said.
Mulford said Shimko’s testimony on behalf of an inmate was compelling and contributed to his decision to knock Almony’s sentence down to life suspending all but 40 years, a sentence similar to what Almony’s co-defendants received in 2001. The murder of Mark Miller 20 years earlier was brutal and senseless, Mulford said, calling it a “violent stabbing and a violent beating with a hammer fueled by drugs, rage and conspiracy.”
“Is it what you wanted? No,” Mulford continued. “Is it a sentence that gives you light at the end of the tunnel? That allows you to one day walk the streets as a free man? Yes.”
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Almony, dressed in a blue prison shirt and a black mask, stood after Mulford announced his sentence. He offered his wrists to a sheriff deputy to handcuff, a routine performed without pause, and shuffled in shackles back to his holding cell.