Woman draws five-year sentence for murder


On an October night in 1989, Ramona Lynn Rolen-Valraie greeted Edward McBride with a hug. With her arms still around him, her new boyfriend, Hazard S. Wilson III, plunged a knife in the man's back.

They murdered Edward McBride, prosecutors say, because they didn't have the money to pay for the drugs he was delivering to them. Over the next two or three days, they used the cocaine in Rolen-Valraie's apartment in the 2500 block of Madison Avenue while Wilson considered how to get rid of the big man's body.

Finally, Wilson seized on an idea and sent Rolen-Valraie, 23, off to buy a hacksaw, tape and garbage bags, she later testified. Wilson then set about cutting off Mr. McBride's legs. Rolen-Valraie's 3-year-old daughter was at the apartment throughout the killing and the disposal of the body.

Yesterday, Rolen-Valraie received a five-year prison sentence on her guilty plea to second-degree murder -- a term lightened considerably from the 30-year maximum she faced because of her testimony, which convicted Wilson in December.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Elsbeth L. Bothe sentenced Wilson to life Monday.

When Rolen-Valraie left her mother's Oxon Hill home almost four year ago, her mother and sister testified, she became a drug addict and fell in with several abusive men. Wilson had moved into her apartment shortly before the murder, and the defense said Rolen-Valraie became completely dominated by him.

On Oct. 7, 1989, Rolen-Valraie testified at Wilson's trial, they paged Mr. McBride, a 48-year-old former computer sales representative and Marine Corps boxer who lived on the next block. They wanted a cocaine delivery and planned to rob him.

Rolen-Valraie said she didn't believe Wilson's threats to kill the dealer until Wilson stabbed Mr. McBride eight to 10 times with a hunting knife.

Then, she testified, they took $400 from the body and for the next two or three days used the $400 worth of cocaine he was carrying.

Rolen-Valraie was pregnant by another man at the time, and she said she couldn't stomach helping Wilson as he did his gruesome work on the second-floor balcony: cutting the legs off the body, placing the pieces into two garbage bags and throwing the bags into the darkened alley, she told police. Later, Wilson moved the body into an abandoned building two doors away.

Three months later, trash-haulers cleaning the building found the bags containing the legs and the torso.

Dental records established Mr. McBride's identity, and the police investigation revealed that he was last seen going to Rolen-Valraie's apartment. She had been evicted in October, after a complaint about a smell of spoiled meat, but the police traced her to another apartment, where she had moved with Wilson.

He was wanted in connection with an armed robbery at a Union Memorial Hospital parking lot, where he had worked as a security guard, but the police were unaware that he was living with Rolen-Valraie or that he was involved in the homicide.

In February, police arrested Rolen-Valraie and charged her with killing Mr.McBride. Wilson was later arrested on the robbery charges.

According to prosecutor Mark P. Cohen, Wilson persuaded Rolen-Valraie to keep silent about his involvement in the murder. For a time after her arrest, Rolen-Valraie called Wilson every day and received love letters from him with proposals of marriage.

Mr. Cohen said she finally contacted the police last April, after she had given birth to a second daughter while in jail. In the words of Detective Gene Constantine, she then became "a homicide detective's dream."

"There was a time when I hoped she'd get life," Detective Constantine testified. "Then it reached a point where I believe it's not going to do her any good in jail. I think she'll go down the tubes if she went to jail."

Rolen-Valraie's lawyer urged that she be given probation and returned to her two daughters and a stable home with her mother in Oxon Hill.

Her sister, Isabella Valraie, and her mother, Rugena Rolen-Valraie, both work for the federal government and promised to help her and her children in any way.

Rolen-Valraie told the judge, "I can't begin to understand how I let myself get so involved, to get so lost. . . . My mistake was I left my family; I became involved in a world that was unknown to me . . . that rebellious part of me that chose to venture out."

But Judge Bothe flatly rejected probation, saying that the year Rolen-Valraie spent in jail wasn't enough and that there was nothing to indicate she wouldn't commit another crime while under the spell of yet another man.

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