Killing suspect turns self in; Arnold man charged in shooting death of 19-year-old girlfriend; First homicide of year; Suspect's family goes with him to Western District police station


A 23-year-old Arnold man caked with blood walked into the Western District police station and said he had just shot his girlfriend five times in the head and left her body in the passenger seat of his Mercedes behind a supermarket, Anne Arundel County police said.

Deronta Lamont Howard was charged with first- and second-degree murder and a handgun violation yesterday, after his dramatic Monday night confession that he shot Latoya Shnae Brown near Evergreen Road and U.S. 301. He is being held without bail at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.

It was the county's first homicide of the year.

Howard had been dating Brown, 19, for almost four years, since they met in Pioneer City, said Brown's mother, Laurice Dixon. The couple had three children -- a 3-year-old daughter, Rontabia, and 2-year-old twins, Deronta and Keshantae.

The couple were last seen together Monday afternoon at Brown's Glen Burnie home in the 500 block of Dogwood Ave. The couple said they were heading to the mall, Dixon said. Instead, police said they believe the two argued.

"She was always saying they were going to break up, then he would take her to the mall and buy her stuff," said Dixon, a 43-year-old custodian at Glendale Elementary School. "I could see it coming; she had no control over him."

Howard called county police at 9 p.m. Monday from his aunt's home and reported the shooting. He told police he'd left his girlfriend's body in his car, parked behind the Super Fresh in Arnold, then walked to his aunt's. He told them he was going to turn himself in.

He went with his family to the Western District police station and placed the small-caliber pistol believed to have been used in the killing on the front counter.

Brown's mother, alerted to the shooting by other family members, arrived minutes later.

"I wasn't really shocked because he was an evil person. But I never thought he would kill her," said her mother. "He was always mad about something."

Howard has been convicted three times since 1994 on drug charges, according to police and court records. Recently, he worked at the Long Fence company, according to Dixon.

"He had been in and out of jail, but each time she would be there for him," said Dixon, staring at her 2-year-old granddaughter, Keshantae, who was stretching her Winnie-the-Pooh sweater. "Everyone was always telling her he was sick in the head, always talking about killing and stuff."

Brown had suffered painful intestinal problems that kept her out of school and was home-tutored, her relatives said. In the past two months, her condition had improved dramatically, they said. She enjoyed photography and writing poetry.

Velma Eldridge, Brown's aunt, said Howard "changed like the wind blows."

"One minute he is nice and as soon as you turn your back it is another story," said Eldridge, 36, a custodian at Severn Elementary School. "If she had just listened to us, it could have been avoided."

Pub Date: 2/17/99

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