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Federal Prosecutors to Push for Death Penalty

February 21, 2002
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Federal Prosecutors to Push for Death Penalty

Associated Press

BALTIMORE (AP) - Federal prosecutors are signaling that they intend to aggressively pursue the death penalty in Maryland.

The U.S. attorney's office plans to seek the death penalty in one federal murder case, attorneys said Thursday, and has announced the first step toward seeking it in another.

Prosecutors will seek the execution of two men scheduled to be tried in April in the death of a Greenbelt teen-ager on federal land in Beltsville, attorneys for the defendants said Thursday.

William Brennan, who represents Rufus Millegan, 22, in the teen's death, said he was "shocked and disappointed" at the decision. Brennan and Cornell McClure, 23, are charged in the fatal shooting of Tessa Mae Osborne, 18, last May on a road at the Beltsville Agriculture Research Center.

U.S. Attorney Thomas DiBiagio would not comment on the case.

However, he announced on Thursday that a Baltimore man was indicted on federal charges that could carry the death penalty in the death of Glen Burnie pharmacist.

Jamal D. Barnes, 24, was charged with violating federal anti-carjacking laws, handgun violations and other crimes in the death last August of Yvette Beakes, 26.

Barnes and three other men already faced state charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery in Beakes' death. Barnes' case was transferred into the federal system as part of a cooperative program between the U.S. attorney's office and Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy.

DiBiagio said Attorney General John Ashcroft has not yet decided whether to authorize him to seek the death penalty against Barnes.

Two others accused in the case, Larry Walker, 16, and Brian Wilson, 16, both pleaded guilty to state charges on Feb. 19. The fourth, Brian McMillan, 18, is awaiting trial.

Prosecutors say the four followed Beakes on the night of Aug. 8 as she left Pickles Pub in downtown Baltimore and rammed her car as she neared her home. When she got out to check the damage, they put a gun to her neck, shoved her into their van and drove away.

The group stopped at several automated teller machines, withdrawing cash from Beakes' bank account.

The indictment states that Barnes recruited the other three to commit the crime after cashing a stolen check and being threatened with prosecution if he did not make good on it.

Several hours after kidnapping Beakes, three of her attackers drove her to Baltimore, took her into the woods and shot her in the head, prosecutors said.

The killing prompted the firing of two 911 dispatchers who police said failed to relay to officers descriptions of the carjacking reported by a witness.

Federal prosecutors have rarely sought the death penalty in Maryland since it was reinstated for certain crimes in the mid-1980s.

The first federal death sentence since then was imposed last year against Dustin J. Higgs, one of two men convicted of murdering three women on federal land on Route 197 in 1996.

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