‘He Never Had the Chance To Be a Better Man,’ Mother of Victim’s Son Says

The mother of a homicide victim’s son’s said his death prevented him from having the chance to be a better man during an impact statement at the defendant’s sentencing in Baltimore City Circuit Court. 

Clifford Knight, 24, was convicted of first-degree murder, felony use of a firearm in a violent crime, having a loaded handgun on his person, and firearm possession with a felony conviction in August 2021. This was in connection to an incident on May 14, 2020, when he allegedly shot Ronald Lewis on the 100 block of Violet Hill White Way. 

During the sentencing, defense attorney Robert Cole presented a motion for a new trial, suggesting the prosecution could not prove in trial that Knight was the shooter. The prosecution stated in trial that “he must’ve had something to do with it” and acted as an accomplice, at the least. 

In response, the prosecution said that insufficient evidence alone is not enough for a new trial. Cole offered a rebuttal where he said that there was no extra testimony that proved Knight was the shooter and reiterated the defendant’s request for a new trial. 

After taking counsel’s arguments into consideration, Judge Martin P. Welsh denied Cole’s motion for a new trial on the basis that he did not believe the verdict was contrary to the evidence presented. 

Judge Welch sentenced Knight to life, suspending all but 50 years, with five years of supervised probation for first-degree murder; 10 years, the first five without parole, for use of a handgun to commit a crime to run consecutively; three years for having a loaded handgun on his person to run concurrently; and five years without parole for firearm possession with a felony conviction to run concurrently.

During the hearing the prosecution said that in the days leading up to this incident, Knight had been on probation for a possession with an intent to distribute narcotics from two months prior.

Since Knight was facing another set of charges, the prosecution said he had not learned or tried to change his behavior from the previous case. In addition, the prosecution claimed that Knight planned the crime because he wanted to get revenge against Lewis for selling Knight bad drugs. 

The prosecution also reminded the court that Knight did not have remorse for the death of Lewis because he denied knowing the victim during the preliminary investigation even though he had seen the victim on several occasions prior to the incident. 

Shortly after the prosecution concluded their argument, the mother of the victim’s son provided an impact statement for consideration in the sentencing. 

She said she had lost two years with Lewis because he was incarcerated and once he got back, “he never had the chance to be a better man for his son and for others.” She expressed that this loss has been detrimental to not only her life, but also her son who constantly misses his dad. 

After taking a moment to catch her breath and tears, Lewis’ mother said that her “son was taken from her.” 

Once her statement concluded, Cole informed Judge Welsh that Knight was very young and is now trying to do better, especially since he received his high school diploma and obtained employment with a lack of criminal history. 

Cole also recommended that Knight be eligible for rehabilitation at the Patuxent Youth Program. 

Shortly after this request, the defendant’s sister and uncle both provided statements on Knight’s behalf. They both stated that they hoped the court would allow for some leniency in the defendant’s sentence. 

The last person to give a statement was the defendant himself. 

Knight offered his condolences to the family for their loss and said that he knows in his heart that he didn’t do this. He also said he believed that several men fall victim to crime in this area. 

After considering all statements, Judge Welch agreed that while the defendant has experienced some negative consequences, this is nothing compared to the victim who “will never come back.” He explained that the circumstantial evidence pieced together in trial demonstrated that Knight was at the scene of the crime when the incident took place.