A man and woman accused in the killing of a South Baltimore bartender in 2017 were convicted by jurors on Friday. (Jessica Anderson / Baltimore Sun video)
Baltimore jurors on Friday convicted a 25-year-old Virginia man of second-degree murder and his girlfriend on gun-related charges connected to the killing of South Baltimore bartender Alex Wroblewski.
Marquese Winston, 25, of Richmond, Va., faces up to 69 years in prison, for the death of Alex Wroblewski, 41, who was fatally shot while walking home after tending bar at The Rowhouse Grille in Federal Hill in November 2017.
Wintson also was found guilty of four handgun charges, according to the state’s attorney’s office and a defense attorney. His attorney could not be reached for comment Friday.
Jurors convicted Winston’s girlfriend, Tonya Hayes, 38, of Atlanta, of two handgun charges. She previously faced attempted robbery and felony murder charges.
“We think it was a fair verdict for my client,” said Hayes’ attorney Natalie Finegar.
“I’m extremely grateful for the collaborative effort of both the police department and the efforts of my prosecutors in the state’s attorney’s office,” Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said. “We fought hard to pursue justice on the behalf of Mr. Wroblewski.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Sheryl Atkins had described how the two defendants targeted Wroblewski inside the Royal Farms and took advantage of the bartender’s intoxication.
“Why bring a gun to an individual who is obviously intoxicated?” Atkins said.
Wroblewski walked into the Royal Farms on Key Highway around 1:15 a.m. for a snack when Winston and Hayes pulled up to the convenience store. The couple had traveled to Baltimore to pick up Hayes’ teenage daughter then return south. Hayes’ son, Tivontre Gatling-Mouzon, 20, waited in the car with the girl while the couple went inside.
Hayes and Winston walked in while Wroblewski walked out. Winston himself testified at trial and said he felt Wroblewski had spit at them.
His defense attorney described the violence as a tragic escalation from the spitting. Winston told the jury he had been using marijuana, cocaine and drinking vodka.
“This case is not a premeditated, intentional murder,” his attorney, Julie Shapiro, told the jury. “This case was a very tragic incident that results when people make poor decisions when they’re drinking or using drugs.”
Wroblewski headed up the sidewalk while Winston went back to the car and reached under the seat for a gun. Then he and Gatling-Mouzon, the son, walked up the street after Wroblewski. Surveillance footage shows them put up their hoods as they walk.
“This wasn’t a tragic event. This was a murder — this was an intentional murder,” Atkins told the jury. “The video shows it very clearly. He’s not spitting toward either of the defendants.”
Gatling-Mouzon told the jury he didn’t see the confrontation.
“By the time I got to the corner,” he said, “Marquese was in his face, saying something I couldn’t hear. I was too far away.”
Gatling-Mouzon said he glimpsed Winston pull a gun, then he turned back and ran for the car. “Before I got in the car,” he testified, “I heard a shot.”
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On the eve of trial, however, Gatling-Mouzon accepted a plea deal for eight years in prison. In exchange, he promised to testify against his mother and her boyfriend. Hayes and Winston both rejected offers for prison terms of 15 and 60 years, respectively.
In a city besieged by gun violence, Wroblewski was killed in a neighborhood that rarely sees a homicide. He was shot outside the new $100 million luxury apartment complex known as Anthem House off Fort Avenue.