Murder case against 'Shoota Man' dropped
Days before the trial is set to begin in the homicide of a West York man, a prosecutor said all charges will be dropped against one of three co-defendants. A second pleaded guilty Friday afternoon.
The third co-defendant was in court Friday morning, where presiding Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn suggested he consider what happened in an unrelated murder case in which a York man is serving life in prison.
Carlos "Los" Johnson, charged in the Aug. 26, 2014, slaying of Lancelot Hylton, was in court on a pretrial motion filed by chief deputy prosecutor David Maisch.
During that hearing, Maisch and defense attorney Karen Comery told the judge that the prosecution offered a plea deal in which Johnson would serve four to 10 years in state prison.
"Maybe your client ought to talk to Mr. Smallwood out there (at the prison)," Renn told Comery.
No deal: The judge was referring to the case of Dejerek Smallwood, who shot and killed two men as they were trying to rob him during a drug deal gone bad, according to trial testimony.
Smallwood initially pleaded guilty to two counts of voluntary manslaughter as part of a plea agreement, but he withdrew his pleas before he could be sentenced and gambled he could convince a jury he was acting in self-defense. Instead, they convicted him of first-degree murder, which comes with an automatic life sentence and no chance of parole.
But it appears Renn's advice fell on deaf ears.
After being given several hours to think about the offer, Johnson, 36, of Chambersburg, indicated he wants to take his chances at trial, Comery told the judge. His trial starts Monday, she confirmed.
Charges dropped: Also Friday morning, Maisch notified the judge that all charges against co-defendant David A. Jackson, 28, of Harrisburg, will be dropped because the district attorney's office has learned new information about the case. Maisch later declined to discuss details about the case.
But according to Comery, a state prison inmate contacted West York Police in January, saying he had heard information in February 2015 regarding Hylton's slaying. He was interviewed by investigators last week, she said.
"There's some doubt if the right people were ... charged," she said. Jackson's street names include "Shoota Man" and "Roc," police have said.
Guilty plea: Co-defendant Ramon Rosario Jr., 31, of York, pleaded guilty Friday afternoon to third-degree murder. As part of his negotiated plea agreement, he was sentenced to 15 to 40 years in state prison, which must run consecutively with whatever prison time he receives on his federal court case.
Known as "Boopers," Rosario in February pleaded guilty in Harrisburg's federal court to tampering with a witness. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 14, according to court records.
Federal court records state he impeded a federal investigation into cocaine trafficking by engaging in "misleading conduct toward a federal law enforcement officer by indicating that he negotiated with and consummated a purchase of cocaine from a target of a federal investigation, when he had not engaged in the drug transaction with the target."
The indictment also states Rosario hid money given to him by investigators that he was supposed to use to conduct a drug buy as an undercover informant.
Set up meeting: During his murder plea Friday, Rosario admitted he called victim Hylton and set up a meeting about Hylton owing someone money. At that meeting, Hylton and Johnson argued, according to Rosario.
Things got out of control, he said, and Johnson shot Hylton. Rosario admitted he was handed Hylton's wallet and tossed it away as he left the homicide scene.
Hylton, 41, was found dead on the front steps of his home at 1100 W. King St. just after 4:30 a.m. Aug. 26, 2014, West York Police have said. He suffered a single gunshot wound to the head, according to police.
A witness told police she overheard Hylton arguing with two men and heard him say, "I don't have your money."
— Staff writer Christopher Dornblaser contributed to this report. Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.