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Crime

Second suspect in 2021 fatal robbery sentenced to 20 years; trial for third begins Monday

A judge sentenced the second of three suspects in a fatal robbery to 20 years in prison Tuesday, about a month after an accomplice’s sentencing and less than a week before the trial begins for the man accused of being the gunman in the October 2021 killing.

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Jaonte Edward Coates, 33, received a life sentence with all but 20 years suspended for his involvement in the death of 22-year-old Cornell Young, a Baltimore resident shot dead on Oct. 14, 2021. Both Coates and Kenon Jackson submitted Alford pleas to first-degree murder – while not an admission of guilt, it concedes that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict – while Shammond Taylor, the man accused of firing the gun that killed Young, is scheduled to stand trial on Monday.

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“This whole thing is tragic and senseless,” Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Wachs said during his sentencing of Coates. “Everyone in this town is tired of young men being killed by young men. It needs to stop.”

Surveillance footage played for the court showed Coates in the area of Pleasant Street, where the crime took place, and then running toward the confrontation. He is seen on camera entering the vehicle Young and another Baltimore man arrived in and running away once Young is shot.

Noting that Coates neither touched anyone or took anything during the robbery, public defender Bethany Skopp described her client’s involvement as the least of the three men indicted.

State prosecutor Jason Steinhardt said he believes Coates’ involvement in the crime was more in line with that of Jackson, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in December. In both cases, the state asked Wachs to suspend all but 40 years of incarceration.

Despite the degrees of involvement, both the state and members of Young’s family argued that Coates deserved a strong punishment.

In a letter read to the court by her sister, Young’s mother Vernell Scott recounted the day before her son’s death – his birthday. She said it was a good day, filled with laughter, love and food, the last day of its kind.

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“I have not had a peaceful day since,” Scott wrote, saying there are days that she cries from morning to night and others in which she breaks down in the grocery store passing her son’s favorite snacks.

Steinhardt told the court that it was too difficult for Scott to present the letter herself.

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“My depression is real and deeper than anyone can imagine,” she wrote.

Conversely, Coates was described as a “calm, quiet, and respectful” family man. A parent to three children, Skopp said he “really thrived in his role as a father” and mentor in his community, adding that Coates was under the influence of Xanax both during the robbery and at the time of his arrest in June 2022.

Before he received his sentence, Coates took an opportunity to address the court.

“I just want to say I’m sorry to the family,” he said in his green jumpsuit.

Coates’ father, Sandy Glover, reiterated his son’s apology as Young’s family left the courthouse. Coates’ brother James was shot and killed in 2006.


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