While awaiting trial for charges stemming from a brazen 2020 shooting in Southwest Baltimore that left a man dead and three others wounded, Jeremiah Tehohney began to think an accomplice was cooperating with the police.
Investigators learned of this while listening to the defendant’s jail calls, Assistant State’s Attorney Rita Wisthoff-Ito said at Tehohney’s sentencing hearing Thursday. She said he wanted to send a message.
“This isn’t my first body,” Tehohney said on the phone, according to the prosecutor.
“That’s an admission to me,” Wisthoff-Ito said, noting that Tehohney was arrested on murder charges in 2018 — ones her office dismissed — and that he had a juvenile record involving violence and guns. She said he spoke of “beating” another homicide case.
But a city jury in October found Tehohney guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder — and a related handgun offense — in the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Anthony Covington almost three years ago.
On Thursday, Baltimore Circuit Judge Anthony Vittoria sentenced Tehohney, 23, to the maximum penalty allowable for the charges he was convicted of: life plus three years in prison. The judge said he was disturbed by the jail calls.
“I actually fear for the citizens of Baltimore ... if Mr. Tehohney is released,” said Vittoria, hoping aloud that the stiff punishment would deter Tehohney’s accomplices, who have not been arrested, from further violence. “The overriding factor is public safety.”
In the dark of night on March 28, 2020, a silver Infiniti sedan pulled up to the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Ostend Street. According to charging documents, three of the cars’ occupants got out and opened fire on the corner.
Police responded around 10 p.m., finding Covington lying on the street with multiple gunshot wounds. Another man was on the front steps of an adjacent residence. He’d been shot repeatedly, too.
Covington died shortly after arriving at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Two other men who had been on the corner with them got to the hospital on their own and were treated for gunshots.
Back in the Pigtown neighborhood, crime scene technicians collected 14 bullet fragments and 27 9 mm cartridge casings from the corner where the gunfire erupted, detectives wrote in Tehohney’s charging documents.
Cameras captured the shooting and, while scouring the footage for clues, investigators noticed one of the masked gunmen was wearing a blue sweatsuit and two-tone tennis shoes with white soles.
According to charging documents, Tehohney posted a photo to his Instagram account the day before the shooting wearing the exact same outfit. He deleted the post shortly after the attack.
“He was the only one wearing something unique,” Wisthoff-Ito said in court Thursday.
Police arrested Tehohney on April 5 of that year.
In the meantime, Covington’s family and friends grieved.
“Anthony’s life meant something to everyone he came into contact with,” Covington’s older sister, Aniesa Covington, told Vittoria on Thursday.
She also read her mother’s letter to the judge aloud in court. While both women expressed an interest in forgiving Tehohney because of their strong faith, they lamented his apparent lack of remorse and that he would continue to be able to see his loved ones from prison.
“We are left with memories, pictures and an unfillable void,” she said.
A presentence investigation found that Tehohney had a sixth grade education, never held a job and paid $1,000 cash every few days for Percocet painkillers, according to excerpts referenced in court Thursday.
Tehohney’s attorney, Augustine Okeke, told Vittoria his client never knew his father and that his mother suffered from drug addiction his whole life. His mother showed up for one day of his trial in October but was so intoxicated that sheriff’s deputies removed her from court, Okeke said.
“Everywhere he looked around growing up, all he saw was people doing the wrong thing, people who didn’t care, people doing drugs,” Okeke said. “Where are you going to learn the positive things?”
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Okeke asked Vittoria to give Tehohney a chance, describing him as intelligent but misguided.
“He is sorry, deeply sorry,” Okeke said.
Tehohney declined an opportunity to address the judge, hanging his head as he prepared to be punished.
In October, the jury acquitted Tehohney of murder but deadlocked on several other charges, including attempted murder counts related to the nonfatal shootings. Prosecutors can seek to retry him on those counts. He is due in reception court July 25 to set a new trial date.
In the meantime, Tehohney has 90 days to ask that a judge modify his sentence. The judge can wait up to five years to rule on that request.
Vittoria said he’d consider modifying Tehohney’s punishment five years later, if he was convinced Tehohney was working to better himself behind bars.
“Here’s your chance, Mr. Tehohney,” the judge said.