Government won't seek death penalty against alleged Block drug group

Federal prosecutors filed notice that they will not seek the death penalty against three Baltimore men charged with directing a drug enterprise in the city's red light district and killing a woman they suspected of being an informant.

An indictment was unsealed in January charging Monica McCants and her son, Donte Baker, along with Gary Cromartie and Tyrone Johniken, with racketeering conspiracy for allegedly directing a drug-dealing operation on The Block through violence and intimidation. The indictment linked the three men to the December 2010 killing of dancer Cherrie Gammon, making them eligible for the death penalty.

In a letter dated March 26, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua Kaul and Robert Harding wrote to U.S. District Court Judge James Bredar that the government will not seek the death penalty. They said additional charges could be forthcoming against one or two of the defendants, however. 

Baker, Cromartie and Johniken all pleaded not guilty at arraignments Thursday in U.S. District Court. 

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