Federal prosecutors say a Baltimore woman who died in a 2016 witness retaliation attempt was murdered by mistake. The intended target, according to court documents, lived next door.
On the morning of May 27, 2016, Latrina Ashburne, 41, left the Cylburn home she shared with her mother to go to her job as a teacher’s assistant at a nearby school. While she walked to her car, a hooded man walked up to her and shot her at close range, the U.S. attorney’s office disclosed in court filings.
Federal prosecutors say the hooded man was Davon Carter, 39. This week, a second man, Clifton Mosley, 41, was indicted in Ashburne’s killing.
Ashburne served as an associate pastor at the Kingdom Restoration Center church on York Road. Her killing baffled her family members.
"How could this happen to her of all people?" asked the Rev. Christian Hall, 46, Ashburne's uncle.
According to the court documents, Ashburne’s next-door neighbor had been a witness and whistleblower in a health care fraud and murder case that implicated Carter’s close friend Matthew Hightower.
At the time of Ashburne’s killing, Hightower was incarcerated, awaiting trial for the 2013 killing of David Wutoh. According to the court filings, Hightower learned the identity of the witness in 2015.
Immediately after Ashburne’s shooting, the witness, her neighbor, texted Erin Fuchs, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The neighbor told Fuchs that she believed she had been the intended target.
Detectives with the Baltimore police department collected surveillance footage from a nearby apartment building that showed the shooter and a Pontiac that appeared to be the getaway vehicle. Using the car’s license plate, they later traced the Pontiac to Carter’s girlfriend.
Police pulled Carter over while he was driving a BMW registered to Hightower. Federal prosecutors say Carter ran his drug dealing business while Hightower was incarcerated and that the two were in frequent contact.
Carter claims that officers stopped and searched him without probable cause, violating his Fourth Amendment rights.
Carter, 39, was indicted in December 2017 for witness retaliation and tampering related to Ashburne’s killing. In a new indictment, Carter was also charged with being a felon in possession of ammunition, possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute, using a cellphone to facilitate a felony and narcotics conspiracy.
A second man, Clifton Mosley, 41, was charged with two counts of conspiracy to murder a witness, as well as witness retaliation murder and witness tampering murder.
Mosley had an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Wednesday and is detained pending trial. Carter remains detained and is scheduled for an initial appearance on the new charges March 14.
Each could face a life sentence in prison for each of the two conspiracy counts, witness retaliation and witness tampering murder charges, plus additional time for the other charges. Mosley was charged with marijuana distribution.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.