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Jose Morales Charged in Murder

September 11, 2012

A Federal grand jury has indicted Jose J. Morales for using a cell phone to arrange the murder-for-hire of Robert Long, a former employee and accomplice.

Morales, a drug-dealer, firebug and pseudo-contractor who specialized in stealing heavy construction equipment and defrauding homeowners and businesses through various scams, operated with near-impunity for a decade even as arrests piled up. Long was shot in the head shortly after he agreed to testify against Morales in a case involving stolen scaffolding. ["With Impunity,” Feature, Aug. 11, 2008].

Relying on two witnesses, one of whom was shaky and the other—Mark Bartlett—an associate of Morales’ crew, Baltimore Police and prosecutors charged Demetrius Smith with the murder, convincing a jury on Bartlett’s strong testimony. ["Anatomy of a Murder Trial," Feature, Feb. 24, 2010]. Smith was sentenced to life; the charges were quietly dropped August 1. The shaky witness recanted and Bartlett died.

Morales, who is serving a 262-month sentence for drug dealing and also faces additional drug charges, could face the death penalty if convicted in the murder scheme, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein says.

No word yet on the triggerman.

See the indictment here.