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Jury begins deliberations in murder trial of Baltimore man accused of vigilante war on drugs

Jurors began deliberating Monday whether to convict a Park Heights man charged with murder and other alleged offenses during an alleged vigilante war on drugs.

Prsecutors say Mausean Carter, 31, armed himself with a handgun and assault rifle then set out to assassinate drug dealers. What resulted was a shooting rampage over three days in December 2017 that wounded innocent people with stray bullets, including a Muslim cashier who was killed while he knelt to pray. The attacks ended with a car chase through West Baltimore while Carter allegedly fired indiscriminately from behind the wheel of his Lexus.

Police charged him with two murders, several counts of attempted murder, reckless endangerment and handgun charges. He faces life in prison if convicted.

The jurors began deliberations Monday afternoon after Carter’s week-long trial in Baltimore Circuit Court. Carter himself declined to testify and his defense attorney called no witnesses.

During the closing arguments Monday, his public defender noted inconsistencies in evidence connecting the drive-by shootings. Various accounts described Carter’s Lexus as silver, gray, white or black.

“You just decide for yourselves,” Public Defender Frank Cappiello told the jury, “whether it was the same vehicle.”

Prosecutors anchored their case on a recorded confession Carter made to police after he was arrested. Cappiello suggested the confession was coerced.

Jurors watched the police interview Friday and Monday. In it, Carter tells detectives he became fed up with the drug dealers hassling him and his girlfriend, and sitting on his car. He told detectives he was frustrated because police had failed to help, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.

“He tells you he’s been fed up for two years. He’s tired of the drug dealers. It’s been building in him,” Assistant State’s Attorney Traci Robinson told the jury. “His full intent was to essentially execute as many drug dealers as he could.”

Two men were killed and several others wounded. During the recorded interview, detectives told Carter some of his victims were known drug dealers — others weren’t. Among the bystanders was a restaurant owner, the Muslim convenience store clerk and a handyman.

Carter is accused of gunning down Martrell Harris, 21, during a drive-by shooting on Reisterstown Road. Harris was shot through his neck.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the ultimate penalty for being a drug dealer is not death,” Robinson said. “It’s not a public execution.”

If Carter is found guilty, jurors will take up the question of whether he possesses the mental capacities to be held criminally responsible. He cleared a court-ordered mental evaluation to stand trial, though a family member has said he is schizophrenic.

Jurors are to resume deliberations Tuesday morning.

tprudente@baltsun.com

twitter.com/Tim_Prudente

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