City hit man sen­tenced for mur­der-for-hire scheme

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Justin Fen­ton jfen­ton@balt­sun.com

How much would it cost to take a life? In Bal­ti­more, the go­ing rate was $5,000, ac­cord­ing to a con­tract killer’s plea agree­ment with federal au­thor­i­ties.

Davon San­ford, 33, pleaded guilty Fri­day in U.S. Dis­trict Court to par­tic­i­pat­ing in a mur­der for hire and was sen­tenced to 30 years in prison.

San­ford was one of a group of four Bal­ti­more men who have pleaded guilty to be­ing will­ing to take on con­tracts to kill.

Federal pros­e­cu­tors say San­ford par­tic­i­pated in the killing in 2012 of Gre­gory Parker, 54, in East Bal­ti­more. About 2:30 p.m. on March 16, 2012, some­one ap­proached a con­tract killer named Tavon Slowe about killing Parker for $5,000 be­cause of a fight that had hap­pened ear­lier in the month.

Less than two hours later, Parker was dead, shot sev­eral times in the 2300 block of E. Chase St.

Video sur­veil­lance showed San­ford run­ning from the scene and climb­ing into Slowe’s Honda Ac­cord, ac­cord­ing to the plea agree­ment.

San­ford was not charged un­til this past June, a year af­ter he was con­victed in state court of fa­tally shoot­ing a man in West Bal­ti­more in Septem­ber 2013. He is al­ready serv­ing 40 years in that case.

Court pa­pers out­line how the FBI and Bal­ti­more po­lice had been work­ing to catch San­ford and other hit men by hav­ing un­der­cover of­fi­cers ask them to take on con­tract killings. They reached out to Slowe in April 2013.

“I need some­thing done, yo,” the wit­ness told Slowe, ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties.

“We can get a hot dog for you,” the man con­tin­ued. Pros­e­cu­tors said “hot dog” was code for a gun.

Slowe agreed to take the con­tact, and au­thor­i­ties set up a meet­ing with Slowe where an un­der­cover of­fi­cer was pur­port­edly go­ing to be sup­plied with guns. An ar­rest team would then move in and take him into cus­tody. But Slowe didn’t show.

Slowe later told his brother, Der­rick Smith, that he be­lieved the per­son he was sup­posed to meet was an un­der­cover po­lice of­fi­cer.

Au­thor­i­ties in Jan­uary 2014 be­gan pur­su­ing Smith with the same fic­tional case they had tried to get Slowe to take on. Smith, ac­cord­ing to his plea, agreed to take on a con­tract killing from an un­der­cover of­fi­cer in ex­change for $5,000 and two watches.

An un­der­cover of­fi­cer and an in­for­mant gave him a cell­phone and con­tin­ued to in­ter­act with him. A man named Robert Har­ri­son was later found in pos­ses­sion of the phone af­ter be­ing tracked with a stingray phone track­ing de­vice, au­thor­i­ties said. Har­ri­son had been heard on a recorded phone call ask­ing for “half up front.”

The use of the stingray de­vice, which mim­ics a cell­phone tower, had been con­cealed in Mary­land un­til pros­e­cu­tors ac­knowl­edged us­ing it in the cases of Smith and Har­ri­son.

Af­ter their at­tor­neys chal­lenged the use of the stingray without a war­rant, both men en­tered guilty pleas in ex­change for sen­tences of seven years, and four years and nine months — less than the penalty rec­om­mended un­der federal sen­tenc­ing guide­lines.

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