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Crime

Baltimore man sentenced to 35 years for Columbia murder-for-hire scheme

One of three defendants in a federal murder-for-hire case surrounding a deadly shooting in Columbia was sentenced to 35 years Wednesday after pleading guilty to using a firearm in a crime of violence resulting in death.

U.S. District Judge Julie Rebecca Rubin also required three years of supervised release after Daquante Thomas, 20, serves 35 years in prison for the Oct. 4, 2020, shooting that killed Juan Ross, 23.

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Thomas admitted to authorities in his plea agreement that he participated in the shooting, where federal prosecutors said in an indictment that he and an unnamed accomplice shot Ross outside an apartment on Basket Ring Road after being driven there by Tyrik Braxton, 26, who is awaiting trial on murder-for-hire conspiracy charges.

The indictment claims that another conspirator, Jourdain Larose, 27, had hired Braxton to carry out the murder. Larose had gotten into a dispute on social media with Ross, who had recently been arrested on drug and weapons charges, accusing Ross of being a confidential informant for authorities.

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The indictment claims Larose first attempted to contract a killing through an unnamed conspirator, who did not kill Ross. Larose then solicited Braxton, who enlisted Thomas to kill Ross, the indictment says. Braxton and Thomas drove from Baltimore to Columbia that day and picked up the unnamed accomplice, stopping at a drugstore before traveling to the apartment complex to kill Ross at about 2:30 p.m.

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Thomas’ plea agreement does not name Larose or Braxton, referring only to co-conspirators. It does not say how much the men were paid to kill Ross.

ATF Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Crosby said in a statement that “the prioritizing of money over humanity in this case shows just how little this defendant values the lives of others.“

“We cannot allow individuals like this to walk freely in our communities, willing to murder citizens for the right price,” she said.

Jennifer Smith, Thomas’ attorney, declined to comment. In a court filing, she included a letter from his grandmother, Kimberly Stringfellow, who asked Rubin to show her grandson mercy, noting that he is a new father.

“All I ask if you can find it somewhere in your heart to give him one more chance of life in the community to being a better person/dad one day please,” Stringfellow wrote. “He was lost to the streets, now that his life journey will be put on hold as a free young Black man, he will have much time to recapture what life could have been what his actions cost a lot of family and his child.”

Rubin recommended that Thomas serve his sentence at Federal Correctional Institution, Beckley in West Virginia.

Larose and Braxton remain detained as they await trial in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore.


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