Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five



A 25-year-old Annapolis man was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison for the 1991 murder of a city police informant.

Howard Eugene "Howdy" Stevens Jr. received a 20-year sentence, with 10 years suspended, in county Circuit Court yesterday. Prosecutors said Stevens fired the shots that killed 22-year-old Sylvester Wayne "Tink" Johnson as he sat in his car in a back alley near an Eastport housing project.

Stevens, who had been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, pleaded guilty in November to second-degree murder. In return, prosecutor Frank Ragione dropped the conspiracy charge and agreed to recommend a sentence of between 15 and 25 years.

Stevens is one of three men to plead guilty in Johnson's death. A fourth man, Gary Ellis "Peanut" Brown, is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 18, Ragione said.

David Marshall "Manzie" Chapman, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Johnson's slaying, was sentenced to 15years in prison. Christopher Deon Jones, who admitted driving the get-away car after the slaying and agreed to testify against his co-defendants, has not been sentenced.

In a statement to police, Stevenssaid he was one of three men who armed themselves and, with a driver, went looking for Johnson. He told police he shot Johnson with a .38-caliber handgun early Jan. 14, 1991.

County Circuit Judge RaymondG. Thieme Jr. ruled that that statement could not be used against Stevens in a trial. Court records do not include an explanation, but they show that defense lawyer William H. Murphy Jr. claimed that police"induced" Stevens into confessing by telling him they would "try to get the charge reduced" to second-degree murder if he made a statement.

Court records show that Stevens told police he and his friends went after Johnson because Johnson had threatened some of Stevens' friends over money owed him.

Thieme has ordered portions of Stevens'court file sealed.

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