25 Years for 2010 Bel Air Murder in Legion Parking Lot

… Victim was shot in the back of the head leaving a party …

baltimoresun.com

BY KAYLA BAWROSKI, kabawroski@theaegis.com

10:38 PM EST, November 30, 2011

A Parkville man who pleaded guilty Wednesday to a 2010 Bel Air murder is “looking to do a life sentence on the installment plan,” the Harford County judge, who sentenced him to 25 years in prison, said about the man’s actions leading up to the killing.

Rakim Raid Muhammad, 21, entered guilty pleas to second-degree murder and the use of a handgun in the commission of a violent crime in the Harford County Circuit Courthouse, two blocks south from where he shot 25-year-old Derrick Maxey Jr. in the back of the head on a parking lot, early on the morning of July 18, 2010.

The pleas were entered under an agreement with the state. Harford County Circuit Judge Emory Plitt Jr. sentenced Muhammad to five non-parolable years for the handgun charge and 20 additional years for second-degree murder.

Muhammad, who is also listed as Rakin Muhammad in court records, also pleaded guilty in two probation violations and will serve 10 years for them, concurrent with the 25-year sentence in connection with the Maxey killing.

According to prosecutors, Muhammad attended a party at Bel Air American Legion Post 55 on North Bond Street, where Mr. Maxey was also in attendance. Harford Assistant State’s Attorney Joel Muneses presented testimony from several witnesses during Wednesday’s plea hearing, all of whom identified Muhammad as Mr. Maxey’s killer.

According to witnesses’ testimony, around 1:20 a.m. on July 18, a Sunday, Muhammad fired five shots from a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun in the direction of Mr. Maxey, who died from a gunshot to the back of his head. Muhammad also hit an Edgewood girl, who was 15 at the time, in the leg.

When paramedics arrived on scene, according to Muneses, Mr. Maxey had no pulse, and Muhammad had fled.

After the incident, Muhammad hid from police for four months before he was found in a Baltimore City basement, with black trash bags taped to the windows, on Nov. 19, 2010, according to Muneses.

Bel Air police led the investigation and when Muhammad was identified as the suspect, Bel Air Police Chief Leo Matrangola suggested the shooting was an act of retaliation.

Muhammad was also involved in a 2007 Edgewood street brawl, as was Mr. Maxey’s stepfather, Gregory Simmons, who was seriously injured.

Smmons and several other members of Mr. Maxey’s family spoke during Wednesday’s hearing before Plitt’s announced his sentencing decision. The courtroom was nearly full, with members of Muhammad’s family also in attendance.

Mr. Maxey’s father, Derrick Maxey Sr., who took the stand first, expressed his pain over the loss of his son, as well as his hope for the state’s decision in offering the plea deal to Muhammad.

“I’m trusting you and I’m trusting the state of Maryland to do it right,” he said.

Mr. Maxey’s 11-year-old brother, Blair Maxey, tearfully took the stand and spoke about how his brother was “always there for [him],” and “had [his] back always.”

Jessica Hagey, the mother of Mr. Maxey’s daughters, took the stand last and described how his death has affected her family. Mr. Maxey was the biological father of two of her three daughters, Hagey said, a 3-year-old and a 13-month old who was born after his death.

“He truly was an amazing father to our kids,” she said.

After the victim’s family testified, Plitt gave Muhammad an opportunity to speak, but he declined.

Plitt also spoke to Mr. Maxey’s family, telling them that in his 19 years as a judge, he has yet to figure out the “cruelty” of some people.

Plitt said he sympathized and empathized with the family’s loss, but he also told them nothing any judge can do would ever replace or make up for that loss.

The judge questioned why Muhammad had attended a party with a .45 caliber handgun, which he said had amounted to Muhammad being out looking for trouble. He also conceded Muhammad’s sentence could have been much harsher.

“He’s getting a break today,” Plitt added. “I’ll be the first one to say that.”

Muhammad’s attorney, Mark VanBavel, mentioned Muhammad’s request to serve his time in the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, but Plitt said that would be up to the Division of Correction, not the court, to decide.

Muhammad will also serve “straight time,” Plitt said, and will not have to be on probation after he completes his prison time. He was originally indicted on 11 counts, including first-degree murder, but the state decided to not prosecute the other nine charges.

When contacted late Wednesday afternoon, Harford State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly said he could not go into the details of the plea negotiations and background information. Cassilly said, however, that his office had reviewed the evidence and looked at the case from a trial standpoint before making its decision on the plea bargain.

“We felt that this was a good resolution of what we had as far as the case was concerned,” he said.

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… Goodbye, Mr. Muhammad. …

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