Before being sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison, a Severna Park man apologized for the shooting death of 6-year-old Tiffany Smith, but the slain girl's mother was unforgiving.
"He should get life. My child is dead. He's still here," said Charlene Miller, mother of the girl shot in the head after being caught in a cross-fire on a West Baltimore street. Tiffany's death inspired outrage about the indiscriminate gunplay plaguing the city.
Ms. Miller was reacting to the sentencing of Guy Bernard Wilson, 21, who told a judge that he armed himself for protection when visiting his old West Baltimore neighborhood.
Wilson's lawyer said it would be unfair to sentence Wilson to a longer term than the 18 years that Arthur Felton, who instigated the July 9, 1991, shootout and fired the bullet that killed Tiffany, is to receive today under the terms of a plea bargain.
But Baltimore Circuit Judge Thomas Ward said that he would not consider Felton's deal with prosecutors in sentencing Wilson.
"None of this would have occurred if you hadn't brought your gun. Tiffany Smith would still be alive," the judge told Wilson. "A message must go out that it has to stop."
Ms. Miller's bitterness surfaced when she was asked after the sentencing hearing whether it is appropriate that Felton will receive a lighter sentence than Wilson.
"I don't give a s about Arthur Felton. I don't have no mercy for either one of them," she said.
Judge Ward sentenced Wilson to consecutive 10-year terms for manslaughter and use of a handgun in a violent crime.
He also imposed a five-year sentence, to be served concurrently, for reckless endangerment.
At the end of a five-day trial for murder, a jury deliberated 3 1/2 hours before finding Wilson guilty on Aug. 13 of the lesser crime of manslaughter and of the other two crimes.
At the sentencing hearing yesterday, prosecutor Michael C. Flannery called for the maximum sentence on all crimes -- totaling 45 years.
That position drew a strong response from defense attorney William M. Monfried, who criticized the city state's attorney's office for allowing Felton to plead guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a sentence of 30 years in prison with all but 18 years suspended and a promise to testify against Wilson.
Mr. Monfried said that Wilson was merely protecting himself from a man who apparently had been an enforcer for drug dealers.
"It is absolutely unbelievable the state's attorney's office gave this bum a deal," the defense lawyer said. "Had it not been for Arthur Felton, none of us would be here today," Mr. Monfried told the judge. "Tiffany would be in the second grade; my client would be continuing his education; and Arthur Felton would be killing people for the drug dealers of Baltimore."