Former shooting defendant pleads guilty in drug cases
— 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.
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.