Homicide Defendant Accepts Renegotiated Plea for Walbrook Avenue Shooting in 2022

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A 40-year-old man is expected to serve more than two decades in prison after pleading guilty to the murder of James Moore and dumping the victim’s body in the street two years ago.

On Feb. 8, Ronnie Harris Jr. and his defense attorney, Andre Mahasa, appeared before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Lynn Stewart Mays for the defendant’s trial. Following additional plea negotiations, Harris agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder, firearm use in a felony or violent crime and witness intimidation in connection to the 31-year-old victim’s death.

The prosecution offered Harris a plea of life, suspending all but 44 years, and five years of supervised probation for first-degree murder, a concurrent 20 years, the first five years without parole, for firearm use in a felony or violent crime and a concurrent 15 years for witness intimidation.

The defendant’s sentencing was pushed to Feb. 9 to allow the victim’s family to attend.

During Thursday’s proceedings, Judge Mays asked the prosecutor if there was a motive behind the killing. The prosecutor replied there was a conversation between Harris and Moore at which time Moore had asked his girlfriend to cook him a steak.

“This set off the defendant,” the prosecutor said, and the shooting occurred moments later.

According to the prosecutor, Harris and Moore had returned to a residence on the 2100 block of Walbrook Avenue after a night of drinking on Jan. 29, 2022. A witness inside the home told Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officers that the witness heard a gunshot and went to the kitchen where the witness saw Moore slumped over on the kitchen table and “brain matter and blood on the wall.”

The witness said Harris, who went by the nickname “Cuzzo,” threatened to kill the witness if the witness did not help clean the murder scene. Harris’ co-defendants, 42-year-old Morgan Reed and 35-year-old Janay Barksdale, also helped clean up the area. Court documents state Harris and Reed wrapped the victim’s head and feet in trash bags and carried him out of the house in a blanket.

Police later found Moore’s body around 2:15 a.m. on Jan. 31, 2022, on the 3400 block of North Franklintown Road. Moore was found laying on his back with a gunshot wound to his head, a plastic bag covering his face and his pants around his ankles. Medics were unable to determine a time of death because his body was frozen, the prosecutor said on Thursday.

The Maryland Judiciary website states Reed pleaded guilty to accessory to first-degree murder after the fact and witness intimidation in August 2023 and is scheduled for sentencing on March 6. Barksdale also pleaded guilty to the same charges, but does not currently have a scheduled sentencing date.

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