Guilty verdict in drug-turf dispute that led to murder
A York County jury took less than 90 minutes Thursday to convict a man of murdering York City resident Jazz Beady more than three years ago over a drug-turf dispute, according to chief deputy prosecutor David Maisch.
Shortly before 5:30 p.m. Thursday, jurors found Kareem Lamar Todd guilty of third-degree murder and carrying a firearm without a license, Maisch said, but acquitted the Philadelphia man of first-degree murder, which would have meant an automatic life sentence without parole.
Third-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison, and the unlicensed firearm charge has a maximum sentence of 3½ to seven years, the prosecutor said.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 13 before presiding Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn.
Maisch said there's no doubt the slaying was third-degree murder, "but I thought it also fit with first-degree (murder)."
Still, he said he's not disappointed by the verdict.
The background: It was a turf dispute over drugs that caused Todd to shoot Beady through a door about 3:15 a.m. on Sept. 13, 2013, Maisch told jurors during his opening statement Monday.
"Drugs, guns and murder. That's what this case was about," he said. "Kareem Todd was not going to let anyone tell him (how to run his business)."
Todd was selling crack cocaine in York City, and he had argued with Beady about whether he could sell crack in the area of the 600 block of West Princess Street, according to Maisch.
"He didn't like being told he couldn't sell there (by Beady)," the prosecutor said.
After arguing with Beady in front of 653 W. Princess St., Todd left, retrieved a gun and returned, according to Maisch.
"Kareem Todd didn't let it go," he said, and argued with others who were on the porch before demanding Beady come back outside.
Beady came outside, saw Todd with a gun and tried to get back inside the home, Maisch said.
Shot went through door: That's when Todd fired through the front door and shot Beady in the head, he said.
After that, "all hell broke loose" and others began firing as well, according to Maisch, who said it was amazing no one else was injured. But Maisch stressed to jurors that only one person that night fired at Beady, and that person was Todd.
Within about an hour of Beady being shot, Todd and one of his associates fled York City, and Todd went into hiding in Philadelphia for about a year and a half, Maisch said.
"He was finally caught on Feb. 4, 2015," the prosecutor said. He was captured by members of the U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force, according to federal authorities.
Beady, 26, of Spring Garden Township, died at York Hospital Sept. 20, 2013, of a single gunshot wound to the head, York City Police have said.
Todd, 27, remains in York County Prison without bail. He must still be tried on a charge of being a convicted felon in illegal firearm possession.
Own attorney: Todd acted as his own attorney for his murder trial, which is called "pro se" representation.
Maisch confirmed Todd's initial cross-examinations of prosecution witnesses were slow going.
"All the rules are broken, in a sense, when it's a pro se defendant because the person ... has not gone through the same training (attorneys) have," the prosecutor said.
Todd told jurors during his opening statement that prosecution witnesses against him are all looking out for themselves, some to get leniency in their own criminal cases.
"It's no rocket science to it (as to) why I'm here," he said, and argued prosecution witnesses lied.
"I'm innocent," Todd told the jury. "I shouldn't be here."
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.