A Baltimore man who had told police he was a legend was ordered Wednesday to serve the longest prison term that Anne Arundel County prosecutors could recall for his role in an ambush that left two men dead in the parking lot of an Odenton bar.
Russell K. "Yummy" Harden, 27, who had laughed as the hearing began, sat motionless as Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge William C. Mulford II handed down the sentence of five consecutive life sentences, two of them without parole, followed by another 20 years. The sentence was 11 years shy of the maximum for two first-degree murders, two attempted murders and related charges.
Relatives of the victims wept as they hugged and said they are bracing for two more trials early next year.
"I tell you, planning a funeral for a grandson and closing the casket and seeing him for the last time is kind of hard," said Robert Beans Sr., a retired Annapolis police lieutenant whose grandson, Demarcus "Duke" Beans, 20, and friend Terrence "Turtle" Covington, 24, both of Annapolis, were fatally shot Nov. 16, 2008, outside the Traffic Bar and Lounge across the street from Fort Meade. Demarcus Beans' sister has four children with Covington.
Two other men were wounded.
"Honestly, there is no rehabilitation of Russell Harden," Assistant State's Attorney Michael J. Dunty told the judge, calling Harden "a problem" for police since he was 12.
Harden was ordered into house arrest days before the shootings for violating terms of release on a federal gun conviction. Because of technical problems, electronic monitoring was delayed until after the weekend, and he and his friends took that opportunity to celebrate in Odenton, Dunty said.
"I still stand as an innocent man," Harden protested, telling Mulford that authorities have been out to get him and unfairly pinned the crime on him. His sentiment was echoed in a profanity-laced defense by his sister, whom officials identified as Marilyn Harden.
Calling him "almost delusional," Mulford said, "Mr. Harden, if you are innocent, this is the greatest conspiracy and frame-up I've ever seen."
Assistant Public Defender Denis O'Connell said Harden is the father of five, had a rough childhood, was shot twice as a youth and was convicted in a trial that featured four witnesses who had reason to lie. An appeal is planned.
Harden was convicted in November. The star witness in the weeklong trial, James Samuel Watkins, 21, of Brooklyn Park, had received a promise of a 45-year prison sentence in exchange for his testimony against Harden, who is the father of his sister's baby.
Watkins said he, Harden and Damon Daryl Dodd of Baltimore saw the victims drinking in a car in the parking lot, sneaked up on them and fired. Watkins said he had been told that armed, masked men had surrounded his sister's truck, and he and the other two thought it was the group in the car.
The shootings led to a retaliatory one in Annapolis about 12 hours later.
Dodd, 32, is scheduled to be tried in January on murder and related charges.
A trial for Watkins' sister, Kecia Liverpool, 33, of Baltimore, on charges that she drove the getaway car is scheduled for March.