In a wrenching hearing that left even the judge holding back tears, a member of an East Baltimore street gang was sentenced Friday to 50 years in prison for robbing and murdering the well-known bartender Sebastian Dvorak in Canton.
Baltimore County Circuit Judge Nancy Purpura handed down a prison term of life, suspending all but 50 years to Malik Mungo, 21, for the robbery and murder he committed one week before his 17th birthday. On opposite sides of the courtroom, two mothers cried over the loss of a son.
“To say this case is a tragedy is a monumental understatement,” the judge told them.
Mungo spoke briefly and asked for mercy.
“There have been nights when I prayed and asked for forgiveness,” he said, wiping away tears. “Please don’t give me a life sentence.”
The hearing in Towson concludes the four-year effort by police and prosecutors to put the two men who killed Dvorak behind bars for decades.
Dvorak was robbed of his Nintendo Switch and empty wallet, then shot in his stomach. Jurors watched video of him wounded and writhing in pain; prosecutors told the judge he died an excruciating death at 27 years old.
Police charged two men with the robbery and murder. Surveillance cameras showed Khalyll Hicks and Mungo come upon Dvorak on the street then run away after he was shot, but the video did not show who pulled the trigger. Both were charged under Maryland’s felony murder rule, which holds responsible for murder all those who participate in a felony resulting in death, regardless of who pulls the trigger.
Hicks, 22, pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder in exchange for 25 years in prison.
A Baltimore County jury convicted Mungo in October of felony murder, robbery and gang charges. On Friday, his defense attorney asked the judge for a sentence of 40 years; prosecutors asked for life in prison plus 55 years.
“His behavior while he’s been in jail has been abhorrent,” Assistant Attorney General Jared Albert told the judge.
While in jail, Mungo harassed women correctional officers, grabbing them sexually, cursing at them and masturbating in front of them, Albert said. In a recorded phone call, Mungo boasts that he obtained a knife behind bars. In another call, according to prosecutors, Mungo warns he will “smack the sh-- out of a woman” once he returns to the streets.
In yet another, he brags about pretending to be remorseful in court.
“Mr. Mungo, at this time, is not remotely anywhere close to being returned to the community,” Albert told the judge.
Attorneys on both sides acknowledged the childhood troubles that set Mungo on a path to prison. He was raised by a single mother of five children. The Department of Social Services was forced to step in when he was a toddler. He spent time in foster care, psychiatric hospitals and juvenile detention centers, said Mark Van Bavel, his attorney.
Mungo took medication for bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder. He suffered anger management problems and skipped school, his family and attorney told the judge. Without a father in his life, he turned to the older men of a McElderry Park street gang. By 16 years old, he was selling drugs for them to buy video games.
“There is no excuse for this event, but it is an explanation,” Van Bavel told the judge. “This young man grew up without any supervision ... he hasn’t been instilled with any values; it isn’t there ... That he is acting out in jail, his whole sexual life has grown up in jail.”
His mother, Patricia Davis, asked the judge for mercy, too.
“My child has been in the system all his life, and will continue,” she said. “He never got a chance.”
Mungo was tried a first time over three weeks in June 2019. He admitted to smoking pot and wandering Canton looking for unlocked cars to steal and joyride for his birthday, then to ditching the murder weapon and later to lying to detectives. Mungo insisted he didn’t pull the trigger.
The jury deliberated six days but could not agree on the eight most serious charges, resulting in a mistrial. Mungo was retried in October and convicted.
Dvorak’s killing launched police and federal agents on a yearlong investigation — wiretaps, undercover drug buys — that brought down an East Baltimore street gang led by the Bloods. The gang sold heroin, cocaine, marijuana, fentanyl and ecstasy in the 500 block of N. Rose St. in McElderry Park
The Maryland Attorney General’s Office indicted 13 people on gang conspiracy charges.
“Mr. Mungo was born into a family with many, many challenges ... that is the lottery of birth,” said Purpura, the judge. “The difference in the families between the victim and defendant could not be more stark.”
Dvorak’s grieving parents, friends and other family were a constant presence in the courtroom through the many hearings in the case.
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Known as “Sebass,” Dvorak was a popular bartender at Ryleigh’s Oyster locations. He graduated from Calvert Hall College High School in 2009 before attending Salisbury University and the University of Baltimore. In June 2017, after celebrating his 27th birthday in Canton, he was walking back on Boston Street when he was robbed and fatally shot in near the landmark Can Co. building.
After Dvorak’s death, his family and friends formed the nonprofit Sebass Foundation to provide Baltimore youth with new experiences such as camp in Maine and snowboarding lessons. Dvorak’s parents have said they want to help Baltimore youth see a promising future and stay away from guns.
On Friday, Dvorak’s parents told the judge more of their son: of his big personality, of the way he would burst in and scoop up the cat — the cat only tolerated him — and how he would fill the house with laughter. Their grief feels unbearable at times; other times, it feels unreal, said David Dvorak, his father.
“To lose a child to murder is so dark and consuming,” he told the judge, “It tricks you constantly.”
Sebastian’s mother decorates his grave for holidays. Lisa Richard bakes cupcakes to bring to the cemetery. She hangs a wreath for Christmas. He was her only child.
On his birthday, she posts photos of him online for friends and family. Richard told the judge she tries to share new photos each year — except she’s run out.
There are no new photos of her dead son.