Army sergeant sentenced to life without parole for killing wife stationed at Fort Meade

A federal judge in Baltimore sentenced Army Sgt. Maliek Kearney to life without parole Friday for killing his wife, who was stationed at Fort Meade.

Kearney also was sentenced to an additional 10 years in prison for the use of a firearm in commission of a crime. He will be required to pay about $490,000 in restitution to the couple’s daughter and his late wife’s mother.

Kearney, 37, was convicted in August of the federal crime of crossing state lines to commit domestic violence resulting in death.

Federal Judge George L. Russell III said this wasn’t a “heat of the moment” killing.

“This was cold blooded and calculated,” he said.

Kearney’s wife, Karlyn Ramirez, was a 24-year-old Army private stationed at Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County.

Prosecutors said that Kearney drove seven hours from his home in South Carolina to kill Ramirez on Aug. 24, 2015. He shoved a revolver against her body and fired three times: once into her side, twice into her chest. She was shot at point-blank range to muffle the sound. Kearney then placed her baby beside her. Maintenance workers called police after discovering an open glass door at her townhouse in Severn.

During Kearney’s trial, prosecutors detailed his plan with his mistress, Dolores Delgado, 33, of Florida, to kill Ramirez, cover their tracks and stage her death to look like a sexual assault. Police found Ramirez with her underwear pulled down to her ankles. Their 4-month-old daughter was found abandoned, but unharmed, beside her dead body.

Delgado testified as a government witness. She told jurors she tracked her mileage to help Kearney determine how much gas he would need to drive from South Carolina to Maryland. She bought two five-gallon gas cans from Home Depot, she said, so he wouldn’t have to stop at a gas station and risk being seen. Delgado said she lent him her Nissan Altima, which was less conspicuous than his Jaguar.

She said she later burned his clothes and threw the revolver off a fishing pier in Florida.

Delgado pleaded guilty last year to the same federal crime. She was sentenced in September to 17 years in federal prison for helping Kearney kill his wife.

The judge said Kearney was involved in a relationship not just with Delgado, but with others at the time that he killed his wife. He said Kearney had “predatory behavior” when it came to women.

Kearney and Ramirez had been married the month before Ramirez was killed, but their tumultuous marriage was already falling apart. Both had been unfaithful, prosecutors said in his trial.

They said Ramirez wanted a divorce, and that she blocked his phone number and sought a protective order from the Army. Kearney was enraged, texting her more than 900 times over two days, prosecutors said.

“I am just getting hulk mad,” he texted her.

Ramirez’s mother, Susan Ramirez, told the judge before the sentencing that Kearney was a “sociopath” who stalked her daughter. After her death, the elder Ramirez said he was the first one at the funeral home and the last one to leave, but he didn’t say anything.

“We’re grateful it’s finally over and we don’t have to deal with him anymore. We’re glad we can move on from three long years of torture,” Ramirez said after the sentencing.

Teresa Walen, Kearney’s attorney, pleaded with the judge for a sentence of less than life, saying that Kearney served four tours of duty in the U.S. Army, including one in Pakistan and three in Iraq. She said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from injuries he incurred while serving in Iraq.

She also described a childhood of abandonment in Philadelphia, where Kearney grew up between foster homes.

Kearney spoke before the sentencing, telling Ramirez and her family that “I know the pain and heartache that you feel,” and that he loves and misses his wife.

He spoke showing little emotion, looking down at his notes and speaking so quickly that the court reporter asked him to slow down.

Russell said Kearney had seven hours to think about what he was doing while driving from South Carolina to Maryland before he fired three shots into his wife. It was “plenty” of time to turn around, he said. He told Kearney that he showed no sign of remorse for his conduct and that his words about his late wife “ring hollow.”

“I don’t believe you,” Russell said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Tim Prudente contributed to this article.

crentz@baltsun.com

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