The young Baltimore men charged with carjacking and killing 26-year-old Yvette A. Beakes, a Glen Burnie pharmacist and victim of one of the city's most shocking crimes this year, will not face the death penalty, prosecutors said yesterday.
The four defendants - three of them teen-agers - were arraigned yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court, where they pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, carjacking, kidnapping and handgun crimes. A trial was scheduled for Feb. 8.
Prosecutor Sharon Holback announced that she would seek a sentence of life in prison without parole for the oldest suspect, Jamal D. Barnes, 23, of the 4300 block of Seminole Ave.
Holback did not say what sentences she would seek for the others. Two defendants, Brian Wilson, 15, of the 2600 block of Garrett Ave. and Larry Walker, 16, of the 2200 block of Homewood Ave., are not eligible for the death penalty because they are minors. The fourth defendant is Brian McMillan, 18, of the 2500 block of Garrett Ave.
Although a killing during a carjacking is a capital offense, Deputy State's Attorney Haven H. Kodeck said the state's case is not quite strong enough to support a death sentence.
Under the law, the state would need independently corroborated evidence of who shot Beakes - not just incriminating statements by co-defendants, for example. But the state has no independent witnesses to Beakes' killing, Kodeck said.
Kodeck did not confirm comments by Walker's attorney that Barnes was the alleged shooter and mastermind of the crimes. "I don't want to say he is. There's some evidence that he may be," Kodeck said.
Beakes' family, boyfriend and co-workers attended the arraignment. As she listened to a court clerk read the charges, Beakes' mother wept quietly. Afterwards, Kenneth Shipley, Beakes' boyfriend with whom she lived in Glen Burnie, said neither he nor her family would comment.
Beakes graduated from the University of Maryland pharmacy school last year. Her employer, Kmart Corp., is planning to announce today a $25,000 scholarship in her name that will be awarded annually to needy pharmacy school students.
Barnes and the three teen-agers allegedly followed Beakes as she drove home from a bar near Camden Yards on Aug. 8. As she neared her home in the 6500 block of Fable Court, the defendants are accused of ramming their van into her car, a 2001 Acura, kidnapping her at gunpoint and driving her around Baltimore to various ATMs, where the defendants allegedly withdrew $500 from her account.
Beakes was taken to Southwest Baltimore, and one of the defendants is accused of shooting her in the back of the head.
Attorneys for the younger defendants said prosecutors were trying to get their clients to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for testifying against Barnes. However, the lawyers said they would fight the charges. Walker's attorney, Margaret Mead, said she planned to have him evaluated for psychiatric problems.