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Annapolis man gets 1-year sentence for attempted contract killing


An Annapolis man was sentenced yesterday to four years in prison for his role in the attempted contract killing of his wife's ex-husband.

Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. suspended three years of the prison term for Nicholas Emilio Toro, of the 1100 block of Primrose Court.

L The judge also sentenced Toro, 38, to five years' probation.

Toro pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit murder July 14, after he and an accomplice met last September with an undercover state police trooper to discuss killing Johnny Richard Messick of Melbourne, Fla.

As a part of a plea agreement, prosecutor Eugene M. Whissel II recommended that Toro receive no more than four years in prison.

According to police, Toro and James Allen McCown, 39, of the 1600 block of Crownsville Road, tried to hire an undercover state trooper to kill Mr. Messick.

McCown pleaded guilty June 16 to the same charge and was sentenced to six years.

According to a court records, McCown first met the trooper on Sept. 11 in a park on Arundel on the Bay Road in Annapolis.

He gave the trooper $100 as a down payment to travel to Melbourne, Fla., and beat Mr. Messick until he was paralyzed. He also wanted Mr. Messick's tongue cut out.

McCown gave the undercover trooper photographs of Mr. Messick and written directions, telling the trooper that his friend, Nick,"was in on the scheme.

The next day, the trooper met with both McCown and Toro in the parking lot of St. Martin's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Annapolis. McCown and Toro told the trooper they wanted Mr. Messick killed rather than injured.

They also gave the trooper $400 and promised him $2,500 when the job was done.

The trooper left for Florida, where he met with Mr. Messick, who told the trooper he had received death threats. The trooper photographed Mr. Messick to make it appear as though he had been murdered and took Mr. Messick's Social Security card.

When he returned to Maryland, the trooper met with McCown and Toro on Sept. 16 on the St. Martin's parking lot, showed them the pictures and Social Security card, and arrested them after they handed him $2,500.

Toro's lawyer, Peter S. O'Neill, said McCown was the principal player in the scheme and Toro had merely gone along with it.

"There was no excuse for what he did, but he felt that he was helping his family out by doing this," he said.

The attorney also said Toro worked 11 years as a painter for the Naval Academy and will lose his job as a result of the conviction.

The half-hour sentencing hearing drew 17 of Toro's friends and family.

"Considering what he got, I think it's an OK sentence, but there's another side to this story that just hasn't come out," said Michael Toro, a brother.

He said the intended victim and his brother's wife were locked in a bitter custody battle at the time of the offense.

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