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Federal grand jury indicts three in a Columbia murder-for-hire scheme

Three men have been indicted on federal murder-for-hire charges in the 2020 killing of a 23-year-old man in Columbia, who they suspected of cooperating with law enforcement, according to a news release.

Two men have been in state custody for more than a year for the Oct. 4, 2020 killing of Juan Ross, but in a new indictment handed up in U.S. District Court, federal prosecutors charged both men along with a third, who they say directed the shooting.

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Prosecutors say Jourdain Larose, 26, of Ellicott City went on social media and sent texts accusing Ross of cooperating with law enforcement. Ross had been arrested on drug and weapon charges but was released on bail after being interviewed by police, apparently arousing Larose’s suspicion, according to the release.

Larose allegedly provided a gun to a conspirator on Sept. 12, 2020 for the purpose of killing Ross. When the killing was not carried out, prosecutors say Larose enlisted Tyrik Braxton, 25, of Baltimore, to commit the murder instead, and that Braxton brought on Daquante Thomas, 19, also of Baltimore.

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Braxton, Thomas and an unnamed co-conspirator drove around looking for Ross, prosecutors say. Ross was shot multiple times in the head on Oct. 4, in the area of Basket Ring Road.

A few hours later, prosecutors say, Braxton texted Larose that he had something important to discuss, and Larose told Braxton to FaceTime him. On Oct. 6, Braxton sent a text message to Larose that said, “It’s going to be hot as s--- out here.”

“It already is, bro,” Larose responded.

Braxton and Thomas were arrested and charged with murder in November 2020 and have been in custody awaiting trial.

Braxton’s defense attorney, William Buie, said his client says he is innocent of the charges, and Buie called the case “highly circumstantial at best.”

Thomas’ defense attorney declined to comment.

Larose was charged in December 2020 on a weapons charge; he pleaded guilty in August and received five years in prison, court records show. He does not have a current attorney listed.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the case was investigated with the help of the ATF.

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