Murder-for-hire defendant pleads guilty in death of Towson businessman

One of six defendants in the killing of a Towson gas-station owner struck a deal Wednesday with prosecutors just as his trial was due to begin.

Matthew P. Brown, 28, who prosecutors said rode with the hitman to the site of the killing, pleaded guilty to a single count of first-degree murder in the death of William R. Porter, who was shot multiple times in the head after being lured to his business, a Hess station on East Joppa Road, by a false burglar alarm in the early hours of March 1.

Brown's plea brings to three the number of convictions in the case. On Monday, a jury found Seamus A. Coyle, 28, guilty of first-degree murder and two other counts. Prosecutors said it was Coyle who set up two meetings between a prospective hitman and his aunt, Karla L. Porter, after she had made it clear that she wanted her husband dead.

A third defendant, Calvin L. Mowers, 53 — Karla Porter's brother — pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Sept. 3. No sentencing dates have been set.

The cases of the three remaining defendants — Susan M. Datta, Karla Porter and the alleged hitman, Walter P. Bishop Jr. — have yet to be resolved.

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