Gun­man pleads guilty in Elk­ton ‘love tri­an­gle’ mur­der

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CARL HAMIL­TON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— A man ac­cused of gun­ning down a per­ceived ri­val on the street of an Elk­ton neigh­bor­hood in March 2015 is fac­ing up to 30 years in prison af­ter ac­cept­ing a plea deal.

The de­fen­dant, Jonathan Luis “Rico” De­je­sus, 22, of Elk­ton, fa­tally wounded Mo­tar­ranche Car­rasco-Perez, 27, with a stolen .40-cal­iber semi-au­to­matic hand­gun in Hollingsworth Manor on March 30, 2015 be­cause he be­lieved that his girl­friend – a woman he had started see-

ELK­TON

ing about three weeks ear­lier – was go­ing to re­unite with Car­rasco-Perez.

Car­rasco-Perez pre­vi­ously had a re­la­tion­ship with De­je­sus’ then-girl­friend and Car­rasco-Perez was try­ing to re­sume his re­la­tion­ship with her, pros­e­cu­tors said, not­ing that Car­rasco-Perez and that woman have a child to­gether.

On Fri­day, as part of a plea agree­ment, De­je­sus pleaded guilty to sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and, in ex­change, pros­e­cu­tors dropped the most se­ri­ous count, first­de­gree mur­der, which is pun­ish­able by up to life in prison, and re­lated charges.

Deputy State’s At­tor­ney Steven L. Tros­tle ac­knowl­edged that the facts of the case in­di­cate pre­med­i­ta­tion, which is a key el­e­ment of first-de­gree mur­der. How­ever, he ex­plained that in­ves­ti­ga­tors had re­cov­ered crime-scene ev­i­dence that would have given De­je­sus a po­ten­tial self-de­fense ar­gu­ment.

“The vic­tim’s per­sonal knife was found about a foot away from his body at the scene. De­spite the ev­i­dence

of pre-plan­ning, the state was con­cerned about a po­ten­tial self-de­fense claim,” Tros­tle said. “There were no eye­wit­nesses, so no one saw the ac­tual shoot­ing or a con­fronta­tion, if any, im­me­di­ately be­fore the shoot­ing.”

Tros­tle told Ce­cil County Cir­cuit Court Judge Brenda A. Sex­ton that the state would be seek­ing the max­i­mum 30-year penalty at sen­tenc­ing, which is is sched­uled for Dec. 19, and that the de­fense would be free to ar­gue for less.

De­je­sus’ de­fense lawyer, Mar­garet Meade, re­ported that state sen­tenc­ing guide­lines set a penalty range of 18 to 25 years of ac­tive in­car­cer­a­tion for De­Je­sus, who was clad in a white in­mate uni­form dur­ing the hear­ing. State sen­tenc­ing guide­lines are based on a de­fen­dant’s crim­i­nal record and other fac­tors.

The homi­cide o c c u r r ed about 10 p.m. on March 30, 2015 in or near the in­ter­sec­tion of Road A and Road 2 in Hollingsworth Manor, a short dis­tance from Land­ing Lane in the south­west part of town.

Shortly be­fore the fa­tal shoot­ing, ac­cord­ing to court records, De­je­sus and his girl­friend had driven to a res­i­dence in the unit block of Hollingsworth Manor so the woman could re­trieve a neb­u­lizer for her young son, court records show.

The woman es­ti­mated that she was in­side the res­i­dence for about six or seven min­utes – De­je­sus had waited out­side – when she heard six gun­shots, po­lice said. When she went out­side to in­ves­ti­gate, po­lice added, she saw Car­rasco-Perez ly­ing face­down in the road­way and De­je­sus was gone.

An am­bu­lance trans­ported Car­rasco-Perez to Chris­tiana Hospi­tal in Delaware, where he died that night from his gun­shot wounds.

Tros­tle, who pros­e­cuted the case with As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney Emily Alt, told the judge that in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­cov­ered text mes­sages and so­cial me­dia post­ings in­di­cat­ing that, shortly be­fore the mur­der, “any re­la­tion­ship be­tween Mr. De­je­sus and Mr. Car­rasco-Perez was quickly sour­ing.”

Specif­i­cally, ap­prox­i­mately 10 days be­fore the shoot­ing, De­je­sus and Car­ras­coPerez “ver­bally sparred by text and face to face,” Tros­tle said.

In ad­di­tion, Tros­tle added, De­je­sus had texted his then­girl­friend that he had just seen Car­rasco-Perez, whom he iden­ti­fied by the nick- name “Kito,” and de­clared, “Ima (I am go­ing to) end up end­ing him babe.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors also learned that De­je­sus had asked a fe­male friend, Chante Janelle King, then 17, to steal a .40 cal­iber hand­gun from her mother’s Per­ryville home and give it to him, and she obliged. For her role, King re­ceived pro­ba­tion be­fore judg­ment af­ter plead­ing guilty to theft, which she com­mit­ted some­time be­tween March 11 and March 14 of 2015, court records show.

Tros­tle re­ported that cell phone records seized by in­ves­ti­ga­tors show that, on the night of the shoot­ing, De­je­sus twice texted some­one, whom pros­e­cu­tors be­lieve was Car­rasco-Perez, and threat­ened, “Ima kill u ..”

Af­ter the shoot­ing, De­je­sus texted back and forth with friends, who told De­je­sus that they be­lieved Car­rasco-Perez was go­ing to die from his gun­shot wounds and that he should hide, ac­cord­ing to Tros­tle.

De­je­sus replied to one friend, “I did what I had to do.”

He also called his then­girl­friend af­ter the fa­tal shoot­ing, un­aware that it was now a recorded line, and al­luded to what he had done to Car­rasco-Perez, ac­cord­ing to Tros­tle.

“I did this for you. You know what I’m talk­ing about, you wanted that to hap­pen,” De­je­sus said dur­ing one call to his then-girl­friend, Tros­tle re­ported.

De­je­sus also told her, “That (ex­ple­tive) wouldn’t have been dead if it wasn’t for you . . . It wasn’t just my fault, it was your fault, too.”

Elk­ton Po­lice Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors tracked De­je­sus to a res­i­dence in Havre de Grace, where he ar­rived shortly af­ter the shoot­ing and told the oc­cu­pants that he “needed to hide,” pros­e­cu­tors re­ported. Of­fi­cers ar­rested De­je­sus there on April 2, ac­cord­ing to po­lice of­fi­cials, who also re­ported that in­ves­ti­ga­tors found the hand­gun used in the mur­der in De­je­sus’ bed­room.

While on the loose for three days, De­je­sus sent nu­mer­ous text mes­sages to his then-girl­friend and ex­pressed his love for her, po­lice said. In ad­di­tion, po­lice added, De­je­sus al­luded to the fa­tal shoot­ing and why he did it.

“You can’t be up­set (be­cause) a man who re­ally (ex­ple­tive) loved you was will­ing to go to the edge for you. I re­ally (ex­ple­tive) love you. I only cared that I might lose you . . . I can’t sleep with­out you, baby. You held my heart like lit­er­ally no other. I love you to death, baby,” reads a por­tion of a text that De­je­sus sent to the woman.

In an­other mes­sage, De­je­sus in­di­cated that he “couldn’t live with­out her,” po­lice said.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

Of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gate in­side the crime-scene tape on a Hollingsworth Manor street on March 30, 2015, af­ter Jonathan Luis “Rico” De­je­sus gunned down Mo­tar­ranche Car­ras­coPerez.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

(L-R) Beth Creek, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Youth Em­pow­er­ment Source; Pa­tri­cia Thomp­son, Ce­cil County Health Depart­ment over­dose pre­ven­tion co­or­di­na­tor; and Ken Collins, Ce­cil County Health Depart­ment ad­dic­tions di­vi­sion di­rec­tor, lis­ten dur­ing Fri­day’s opi­oid abuse aware­ness sum­mit in Per­ryville.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

DE­JE­SUS

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