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More details coming in Long murder case

September 17, 2013

Rob Long in 2006-photo by Frank KleinFederal prosecutors plan to tell a more complete (and truer) story than the state did about the 2008 murder of Robert Long, according to a motion filed in the capital murder case against Jose J. Morales.

In a nine-page document titled “Intrinsic Act Evidence to be Used Against Defendant” prosecutors say they plan to introduce testimony that Morales, serving more than 20 years on a cocaine conviction, told other inmates he had paid a hit man affiliated with the Dead Man Inc. gang $20,000 to kill Long in March 2008, and that he became enraged and threatened the life of the inmate when it became clear that he snitched.

The government says Morales also snitched—falsely—on his lawyer, Stanley Needleman, who will testify against his former client and outline the close relationship the two developed since 2001, and to the alleged fact that Morales confessed to Needleman that he arranged Long’s murder. Needleman was disbarred in 2011 and sentenced to a year in prison for failing to pay taxes on a million dollars he kept in a safe in his home—a stash that Morales apparently told the feds about.

The government is arguing, in effect, that Morales’s many and varied crimes are not separable from the narrative of the Long murder, and so they must be introduced and will not prejudice the jury unduly. “It is impossible to extricate Morales statements about drug trafficking and the murder for hire,” the motion says. “The two are inextricably intertwined with his decision to cooperate and his need to provide substantial assistance in order to help himself.”

The document says Needleman, too, cooperated with the feds:

Needleman learned of Morales’ efforts to implicate him in drug trafficking in or about April 2011 when the transcript of the hearing was published on the Internet. Needleman most certainly will be cross-examined about why he did not report Morales back in 2008 (when Needleman believed the information was privileged) and why he chose to do so in July 2011 (albeit as part of cooperating in his own criminal case). Moreover, Needleman will testify that Morales admitted to paying a D.M.I.1 (DMI) hit man $20,000 to kill Rob Long. It is important to show that Morales, as a kilogram level dealer by his own admission, had the wherewithal in 2008 to pay such a sum of money. Morales admitted to traveling with over $100,000 in August 2008 and when he was arrested presented over $23,000 in cash to the airport personnel in order to charter a flight from Texas to Maryland.

The strange story is by now familiar to City Paper readers. Morales came to the paper’s attention in 2006 when his crew menaced residents on S. Chester Street while rebuilding a lawyer’s home with a big addition and no permits. Under the name “Masons Unlimited,” Morales and his workers also rebuilt a house on Fleet Street—part of a rash of putatively illegal demolitions and rebuilds that city building and zoning officials routinely let slide during the housing bubble. The demolition crew on that job included at least one city employee. The engineer—an addict who had been convicted of a racial hate crime—was a former city employee. The attorney and political fundraiser Martin Cadogen—who served as now-Governor Martin O’Malley’s campaign treasurer since 1990—brought the Fleet Street house to the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals. (Cadogen, who never returned reporters calls about the Fleet Street house, was last year named treasurer of the O Say Can You See Pac, widely seen as part of O’Malley’s 2016 Presidential bid).

Morales, meanwhile, had a history of vehicle theft, drug dealing, and arson in Southwest Baltimore, where he was feared by residents who thought him politically connected and, thus, untouchable.

When Long turned up dead 10 days after he agreed to testify against Morales in state court, city police declined to interview Morales or another witness against him in the state case, Warren Lumpkin, who claimed to have a phone message from Long, in which he said Morales had threatened to kill him.

Instead, the homicide detectives—Steve Hohman and Charles Bealefeld (the former commissioner’s brother)—interviewed known associates of Morales. They found a couple of witnesses to pin the crime on a small time drug dealer named Demetrius Smith, who in 2010 was convicted in state court and sentenced to life. “All the pieces fit together,” the prosecutor in that case told the jury.

Three and a half years later, beginning on September 24, another jury will hear about some pieces the city police did not uncover.

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  • HamnEggs

    So are Steve Hohman and Charles Bealefeld in on the conspiracy? What did they get by pinning the murder on some random shmuck? Why would they seek to enable Morales and Needleman? Is this why Bealefeld resigned unexpectedly? Are these two Detectives still on the force? What about these prosecutors Gibson and Croyder who joined in on the conspiracy? Croyder had the balls to castigate a judge who told her the state did not have enough evidence to prosecute a man that was being framed for murder by a drug kingpin, a crooked lawyer, two crooked cops and at least one crooked state’s attorney? What consequences do they face for recklessly trying to destroy this innocent man’s life? Oh that’s right, nothing.

  • Barnadine_the_Pirate

    Smith was not some random schmuck; there were two witnesses who put the crime on Smith. The investigating detective stated that he began the case believing that Morales was his prime suspect, but changed his thinking in light of the testimony of seemingly unconnected witnesses. This is, in fact, precisely what we WANT police to do: let the evidence shape their investigation, rather than shape the evidence to fit their pre-conceived ideas.

    Smith was undoubtedly wrongfully convicted, but there is no evidence that his conviction was the result of deliberate malfeasance on the part of the police or prosecutors. He was, for a time, successfully framed by Morales.

    Prosecutors and police are human and not only can they make mistakes, but they can be deliberately misled by others.

  • William Bond

    Oh really? Trade places with the wrongly convicted.

    Fuck the Pirate. If you think you have real insider info, put yo’mfing name out, punk. For the record. You don’t know shit.

    My name is Bill Bond.

  • Barnadine_the_Pirate

    You have a profound reading comprehension problem if you believe that your post was in any way responsive to anything that I wrote.

  • William Bond

    Your comment was accurately read. Further your constant annoying implications in multiple comments that you somehow have legal insider info needs to be addressed. The facts of this story are that there was extremely poor police work done in this case which caused a man to be wrongly convicted. Every single comma, period, and letter you wrote above was utterly without merit.

    In the future, I suggest that you actually add something to the discussion rather than act as some PR mouthpiece to excuse gross error which should have been further investigated.

    And I stand by my earlier statement, why don’t you experience what the wrongly accused and convicted was subjected to…

  • Barnadine_the_Pirate

    “Poor” police work? Maybe. But that was not the thrust of the OP; the OP stated that Smith “was being framed for murder by a drug kingpin, a crooked lawyer, two crooked cops and at least one crooked state’s attorney[.]” With the exception of the “drug kingpin” part, none of that is borne out by the evidence. You do recognize, I hope, that there is a distinction between “wrong” and “crooked,” right? The police and the prosecutor could have drawn incorrect conclusions — been sloppy, careless, even stupid — without being corrupt.

    And because that was the point of my original post, your repeated statements that I should experience a wrongful conviction are utter non sequiturs. My post did not so much as hint that what happened to Smith was not a bad thing. What I stated — what I will repeat here, typing slowly, so that perhaps some part of it will penetrate the seething, swirling hostility that seems to consume your brain — is that a conviction could be incorrect without being “crooked.”

    So, having repeated my first post, I’ll repeat my second one, too — you have a serious reading comprehension problem. No doubt stemming from your dogged insistence on perceiving everything as part of some mass conspiracy against you.

  • William Bond

    Did you not read the Baltimore Sun’s set-up piece on this case today? Every word you have spoken is gibberish. Further, to seek to comingle your unstated perceptions (of an unnamed man with ‘info’) as to your imagination as to my plight is just further proof that you cannot write or speak English.
    Again: If you have facts to add to what happened in this case add them. Otherwise, stop with your innuendo. And, here is a rebuttal — Barbara Sale at USDOJ understands what I write and that my reading comprehension is just fine, as does Rod Rosenstein, David Margolis, Billy Murphy, Andy Graham, etc.
    Your bona fides?