The life of convicted killer and drug lord Anthony Ayeni Jones was put into the hands of a federal jury yesterday after prosecutors described him in closing arguments as "a killing machine" who deserves to be put to death.
Jones, 25, who ran a $30,000-a-day East Baltimore drug ring linked to the deaths of more than a dozen people, could be the first person executed for a federal crime in Maryland.
"There is no one in the same category as Anthony Jones," Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert R. Harding told the jury in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. "He is no ordinary criminal. He has killed ruthlessly, and he has left in his wake many shattered lives. He is a man who kills and kills and kills again."
But defense lawyers portrayed Jones as a product of "the mean streets of East Baltimore." Jones, they said, was abandoned by his natural parents and grew up in a foster home in a neighborhood plagued with poverty, drug abuse and violence.
"I'm asking for mercy. I'm asking for compassion," William C. Brennan Jr. said. "We are not here today on the mean streets of East Baltimore. We are in a civilized courtroom where the hallmarks are justice and fairness. Justice, fairness and morality do not need the death of Anthony Jones."
The jury will begin deliberations Monday.
Key to the prosecutors' request for the death penalty is Jones' future dangerousness. Jones ordered executions of federal witnesses while in prison awaiting trial, and there is no indication he will stop, Harding said.
But Brennan contended to the jury that Jones is no longer dangerous because his organization has been dismantled in a massive federal investigation. Seventeen of Jones' lieutenants have been convicted.
Prosecutors say many Jones underlings haven't been located and that others are willing to kill for him. Jones has proven to be resourceful at contacting associates even while in prison, at times using coded language in an attempt to hide his intentions.
Pub Date: 6/05/98