For­mer shoot­ing de­fen­dant pleads guilty in drug cases

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CARL HAMIL­TON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— A North East-area man has ac­cepted plea deals and now is fac­ing up to 24 years in prison for two sep­a­rate co­caine con­vic­tions — both re­sult­ing from ar­rests that oc­curred while he was on pro­ba­tion for his role in an un­re­lated 2014 bur­glary case in which a Colora man was shot.

The de­fen­dant, Jo­van­tae Ronae Wright, 23, pleaded guilty to pos­ses­sion of co­caine with in­tent dur­ing Fri­day’s hear­ing in Cecil County Cir­cuit Court, as part of a plea deal in which pros­e­cu­tors dropped sev­eral re­lated charges.

That con­vic­tion re­lates to a May 24 po­lice raid in which of­fi­cers con­fis­cated slightly less than an ounce of co­caine in­side his North Eastarea res­i­dence af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tors had de­vel­oped Wright as a drug sus­pect, pros­e­cu­tors re­ported.

ELK­TON

Wright also pleaded guilty to pos­ses­sion of co­caine in a sep­a­rate case in which of­fi­cers found a small amount of that drug dur­ing a traf­fic stop that oc­curred in North East on May 12 — some 12 days before of­fi­cers raided his home.

As part of that plea deal, pros­e­cu­tors dropped a re­lated charge of pos­ses­sion of mar­i­juana in ex­change for his guilty plea.

Cecil County Cir­cuit Court Ad­min­is­tra­tive Judge Keith A. Baynes ac­cepted Wright’s guilty pleas and or­dered a pre-sen­tenc­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. As of Mon­day, a sen­tenc­ing date had not been sched­uled.

As a re­sult of Wright’s guilty pleas, pa­role and pro­ba­tion agents have re­opened a 2014 crim­i­nal case in which Wright was given pro­ba­tion before judg­ment and was placed on three years of su­per­vised pro­ba­tion in Au­gust 2015, af­ter en­ter­ing an Al­ford plea to con­spir­acy to com­mit first-de­gree bur­glary in the Colora shoot­ing case. Wright, who posted bond in Jan­uary 2015 in that crim­i­nal case, was cred­ited for more than four months that he served in jail af­ter his Septem­ber 2014 ar­rest.

Pros­e­cu­tors, in ex­change for his Al­ford plea, dropped sev­eral re­lated charges against Wright, in­clud­ing at­tempted first-de­gree mur­der and at­tempted sec­ond-de­gree mur­der. (In an Al­ford plea, a de­fen­dant main­tains his in­no­cence while ac­knowl­edg­ing that the state pos­sesses enough ev­i­dence to con­vict him at trial.)

That crim­i­nal case re­lates to Wright and three co-de­fen­dants at­tempt­ing to break into an ac­quain­tance’s Colora home shortly before mid­night on July 1, 2015 to steal a cache of guns that they knew would be there.

Before they were able to en­ter the house, how­ever, one of the res­i­dents walked out a back door to in­ves­ti­gate af­ter hear­ing what he be­lieved to be prowlers — prompt­ing Wright and two of his co-de­fen­dants to run away.

But the re­main­ing co-de­fen­dant — Lu­ciano Al­fonso Bruno, then 19, of Edge­wood — re­mained hid­den in shrub­bery in the back­yard and shot the res­i­dent in the face and the back, before run­ning away.

The vic­tim was flown to Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land’s Shock Trauma Unit in Bal­ti­more, where he ar­rived in crit­i­cal con­di­tion before his im­prove­ments and dis­charge.

Bruno re­ceived a 10-year prison term in Oc­to­ber 2015 af­ter plead­ing guilty to at­tempted sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, as part of a plea deal in which pros­e­cu­tors dropped re­lated charges, in­clud­ing at­tempted first-de­gree mur­der.

The judge, who specif­i­cally had im­posed a 20-year sen­tence with half of it sus­pended, or­dered Bruno to serve five years of su­per­vised pro­ba­tion af­ter his prison re­lease.

One of the co-de­fen­dants who had fled with Wright before the shoot­ing, Ter­rance La­mont John­son Jr., 22, of Port De­posit, re­ceived a three-year sen­tence with all but time served — five months and eight days — sus­pended af­ter plead­ing guilty to con­spir­acy com­mit first-de­gree bur­glary. John­son was placed on three years of su­per­vised pro­ba­tion.

The other co-de­fen­dant who had run away with Wright and John­son — Joshua David Collins, 20, of Conowingo — re­ceived a three-year sen­tence with all but time served, two months and 11 days, sus­pended af­ter also plead­ing guilty to con­spir­acy to com­mit first-de­gree bur­glary. Collins also was placed on three years of su­per­vised pro­ba­tion.

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