Gunman pleads guilty in Elkton ‘love triangle’ murder
— 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-
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.
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.
(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.