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Three juries wouldn't convict Quinton Heard on charges related to a gunfight under I-95 in South Baltimore. But prosecutors had another option up their sleeve.

Heard was out on probation from a murder conviction at the time of the alleged incident, with a life sentence hanging over his head. Probation violations require a lower standard of proof than a criminal trial, so prosecutors brought the same case to the judge overseeing Heard's probation.

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The result: Heard is going back to prison for life.

"Imposition of a life sentence following a violation of probation proceeding is unusual and dependent on the circumstances," Assistant State's Attorney Lauren Lipscomb, chief of the State's Attorney's Office's conviction integrity unit, said in a statement.

"The life sentence imposed in this violent repeat offender case is an appropriate reflection of the gravity of the circumstances. Mr. Heard was on probation for first degree murder and violated his probation by discharging a handgun, opening fire along a busy street. It is fortunate that no one was injured."

"We know this guy is violent," added Assistant State's Attorney Laura Sambataro, a member of the Major Investigations Unit. "He had just been paroled from prison, backing up a life sentence for murder, and police find him firing indiscriminately into traffic just outside McHenry Row on a Friday afternoon two years after his release."

Heard's attorney, Catherine Flynn, declined to comment Monday.

Heard was charged with first-degree murder and convicted in 1997. Heard was sentenced to life with all but 23 years suspended, but was released in 2011 on good-time credits after serving 15 years, the head of the parole commission told The Sun in 2015.

In November 2015, police officers were driving south on McComas Street under the Interstate 95 overpass when they saw a muzzle flash and two men firing into traffic at a car traveling in front of them.

Heard and Andrew Wise were later located in a wooded area near McHenry row, "sweating profusely" and hiding. Police were never able to find any weapons.

Heard was tried three times - in June, August, and September of 2016 - with juries failing to render a unanimous verdict.

But the charges alone triggered a violation of Heard's probation on the murder charge. A two-day hearing - essentially another trial of the gun arrest - was held, and Judge Kendra Ausby found Heard guilty and imposed the suspended life sentence.

Heard's co-defendant, Wise, was acquitted of all charges related to the gun arrest in March.

The two other men arrested during the Interstate 95 incident were also convicted. Antonio Zagaris pleaded guilty to a firearms charge and received five years in prison, while Donta Dorsey pleaded guilty to a drug distribution charge and received four years in prison.

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