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Baltimore man implicated in vigilante war on drug dealers acquitted on some charges, found guilty of others

The driver who led police on a dramatic, high-speed car chase through West Baltimore was arrested. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun video)

A Baltimore jury delivered a mixed verdict Friday in the murder trial for Mausean Carter, who the state argued waged a vigilante war on drug dealers and harmed innocent people along the way.

Jurors deliberated four days before telling Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Robert Taylor they had reached an impasse on some charges. They acquitted Carter on some of the charges and found him guilty of others, including attempted murder.

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Attorneys for the state and defense agreed to accept the jury’s partial verdict for the 31-year-old Park Heights man.

Carter was convicted of two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of attempted second-degree murder and three lesser counts related to reckless endangerment and use of a handgun. He was acquitted on several charges of attempted first- and second-degree murder.

As the verdict was read, Carter stood motionless.

His father, Earl Carter Sr., said the partial acquittal and impasse were more than he was expecting.

“I’m glad they deliberated as long as they did, because they did their due diligence,” he said in the court room.

Carter became notorious for leading police on a high speed car chase through West Baltimore in December 2017 while shooting from behind the wheel. Footage of the harrowing pursuit was watched widely online and across the city. He slowed his Lexus near Mondawmin Mall and his girlfriend ran into the intersection to pull him from the car. She covered him with her body as police swarmed with their guns drawn.

His motives remained unknown until his trial began last week. Prosecutors say Carter had become fed up with the drug dealers in his Park Heights neighborhood and alleged that he set out to kill them.

Charging documents indicate Carter told police that drug dealers hassled him, cat-called his girlfriend and sat on the used cars he bought and sold from his home. In a recorded interview with detectives, Carter said his calls to police went unanswered. He grew increasingly frustrated.

“Nobody’s coming to help me,” he said on the video. “I’m helping myself.”

He told detectives his targets emerged by their own actions.

“I don’t pick people,” he said. “People identified themselves.”

With the partial verdict, the judge will hold a second trial Tuesday with testimony from psychologists to determine Carter’s mental state and whether he may be held responsible for the crimes. The outcome could decide whether he serves his time in a prison or psychiatric hospital.

Prosecutors told the judge they plan to retry the case after a verdict is reached next week.

Assistant State’s Attorney Traci Robinson described a vigilante street war, with Carter arming himself with a high-powered assault rifle and .40-caliber handgun to carry out a series of drive-by shootings over three days.

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Carter spoke of his own actions as part of the “war on drugs.” Still, police and prosecutors say he wounded bystanders and even killed one man with no role in drug gangs.

Stray gunfire hit and wounded the owner of a New York Fried Chicken shop while he was waiting for a delivery of bread, and permanently disabled a handyman who was on the way to a store.

A Muslim man was kneeling for his evening prayers in the back room of a corner store when a bullet, allegedly fired by Carter, came through the wall and struck him in the head. He died instantly. Prosecutors said two people were killed by Carter — the other was shot through his neck while walking down the street. In addition, several others were wounded, they said.

Prosecutors said Carter was callous and uncaring for bystanders.

While Carter’s family waited days for the verdict, they spoke of their frustration and sadness, saying he suffered delusions and mental illness. His story took on a grim and familiar tone: another troubled young man, armed with an assault rifle, who went off shooting people.

The family tried to have him committed to a mental hospital, Carter’s father said, but were turned away.

“They told me unless he proved to be a threat to himself or others, there’s nothing they can do,” said his father, a retired Baltimore firefighter.

Carter had passed a psychiatric evaluation to stand trial.

He grew up in Baltimore County and graduated from Woodlawn High School. Earl Carter Sr. said his son was bullied about his short stature and club feet and he fought back. He could show flashes of temper, his father said.

Family members said Mausean Carter bought the house in Park Heights to renovate and sell. He also began buying and selling used cars from the property. Soon enough, the confrontation began with neighborhood drug dealers.

“I heard they came into his house” and robbed him, his father said. “He got to the point where it was enough.”

The shootings began Dec. 8, 2017, when Carter fired into a minivan that cut him off on Edmondson Avenue, Robinson said. Police were alerted to look out for a silver Lexus with tinted windows.

The drive-by shootings continued. A week later, Martrell Harris, 21, was killed on Reisterstown Road, shot through the cheek and neck.

In charging documents, police wrote that Carter admitted to shooting him, saying Harris had disrespected his girlfriend.

The next day, police spotted the silver Lexus and pulled Carter over, but he sped off and the pursuit began.

Earl Carter Sr. said his family is grieving for the victims and their lost son. “The best possible outcome now is for him to get the help he needed.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Lillian Reed contributed to this article.

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