The events that led to the early-morning slaying of a Marine reservist a year ago began around dinnertime with a fight outside a Fells Point grocery store.
Yesterday , two participants pleaded guilty to assault-related charges in that initial confrontation, and one of them agreed to testify against the man accused of stabbing Michael LaMaris Simms, 18, about eight hours later on the border of Washington Hill and Butcher's Hill.
Simms is believed to have come to the aid of two friends involved in a large fight that had carried over from the grocery store.
"That evening was a nightmare that got worse and worse and worse in terms of behavior," said Baltimore Circuit Judge Gale E. Rasin, who accepted the guilty pleas of Kinlaw "Baby Boy" Jones, 19, and Erica Ammenhauser, 21. "This went on for hours. ... I've had many cases involving fights, sticks and knives, but frankly I've never had one that ended the way this one so tragically did."
Rasin sentenced Jones, of the 1900 block of E. Baltimore St., to five years in prison, suspending all but time served, for second-degree assault; and three years in prison, suspending all but time served, for carrying a knife. Jones tried to stab Kurt Berrain during the confrontation outside Ann's Grocery Store at 140 S. Ann St. Jones had been arguing with Berrain's sister, and he intervened in his sister's defense, prosecutor Lisa Phelps said yesterday.
Ammenhauser and Maurice Crosby, 20, who is charged with killing Simms, were present during the fight and apparently were friends of Jones. After leaving the grocery store, Ammenhauser, Crosby and Jones went to South Chapel Street, where a relative of Berrain lives, carrying "various weapons" and seeking revenge for the earlier confrontation, Phelps said.
Jones' involvement ended there, he said in court. After that fight dispersed, Ammenhauser and Crosby believed that Berrain and his relatives retaliated by damaging the windows of Ammenhauser's foster mother's home in the 200 block of S. Madeira St. near Patterson Park, Phelps said.
The conflict ended with a final fight about 1 a.m. June 10 on South Chapel Street. Ammenhauser came armed with sticks and Crosby with knives. Authorities said they believe Ammenhauser ran from the fight before Simms was stabbed.
Rasin postponed Ammenhauser's sentencing until after she testifies at Crosby's murder trial, scheduled for Sept. 17. Ammenhauser, of the 200 block of Durham St., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree assault. Under the plea agreement, the state will seek a sentence of 20 years in prison, suspending all but seven years, followed by five years of probation.
Simms' mother, Cherand Monroe, declined to comment yesterday.