Hours of closed-door negotiations resulted Friday with a 21-year-old man agreeing to testify against his mother and her boyfriend as they stand trial for the 2017 killing of well-known bartender Alex Wroblewski of Locust Point.
Tivontre Gatling-Mouzon, of Richmond, Va., accepted a last-minute plea deal in Baltimore Circuit Court. But tense moments followed as his mother, Tonya Hayes, 39, stared down a deadline to accept a deal for 15 years in prison.
Her defense attorney, Natalie Finegar, wanted the weekend to think it over. But Assistant State’s Attorney Sheryl Atkins wouldn’t budge.
“I’m standing firm on Ms. Hayes,” she said.
Hayes rejected the deal; she’s scheduled to stand trial Monday for murdering Wroblewski.
Meanwhile, her boyfriend, Marquese Winston, 24, has until Monday morning to decide whether he will accept a deal for 60 years in prison. If not, he will join Hayes in standing trial for murder.
The three did not address the court other than answering the judge with “yes” or “no.”
Friday’s events set the stage for jury selection to begin Monday in the closely watched trial.
Wroblewski’s family and friends packed one side of the courtroom. Some of them cried and hugged each other as they waited. They waited through six hours of backroom negotiations before the suspected killers were led into the courtroom in shackles.
Then Atkins read an account of the crime to the judge.
Wroblewski had stopped for a snack at the Royal Farms at Lawrence Street and Key Highway just as he did many nights. He often walked home after work at the Rowhouse Grille in Federal Hill. Police said he was buying milk and cookies before he was killed. At the Royal Farms, Atkins said, friendly workers were keeping an eye on him.
“He was clearly inebriated, and they were concerned for him and watching out for him,” she said.
When he walked out, he held the door open for Hayes and Winston, who walked in. Atkins said they had come from Georgia and Richmond to pick up Hayes’ daughter then were driving back south.
As Wroblewski walked away, Atkins said, Winston went back to their car and retrieved a gun from under the seat of Hayes’ son. Then Winston and Gatling-Mouzon walked up the street after Wroblewski.
Atkins said they put their hoods up as they went after him. And Hayes came out and drove the car behind them.
“There’s a struggle between Mr. Wroblewski and Mr. Winston,” Atkins said.
Wroblewski was fatally shot in his stomach and the killers drove away.
Surveillance cameras captured the crime and authorities arrested Gatling-Mouzon in Richmond. They arrested Hayes and Winston in Georgia. They charged all three with murder.
Wroblewski was well known in South Baltimore and hundreds of people packed a candlelight vigil in his memory. Outside the courtroom, Wroblewski’s father declined to discuss the events Friday.
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“We’re just here for justice for Alex,” he said.