Inside a chilly Baltimore City courtroom on Sept. 16, Tristian Morgan sat hunched over before a jury of his peers as he watched a prosecutor play gas station surveillance footage that she argued caught the defendant in the act of attempted murder. Following a brief recess, Morgan returned to the courtroom and chose to accept a plea offer rather than proceed with his trial.
According to the prosecutor, the 33-year-old Gwynn Oak resident went on “a shooting spree” on the evening of Oct. 10, 2021, which began at a Gulf gas station at 2615 Gwynns Falls Parkway. The prosecutor said in her opening statements that it wasn’t until another man started to drive away that Morgan pulled out a handgun with an extended magazine, ran after the victim’s car, and fired several gunshots.
Approximately 10 minutes later, she continued, the defendant fired more gunshots on the 3100 block of W. North Avenue.
“The state will show the defendant was trying to murder people,” the prosecutor said, identifying two victims and additional bystanders, including a child. She also noted that video evidence would show the defendant’s physical characteristics matching those of the suspect, specifically the dreadlocks and face tattoos.
Morgan’s defense attorney, Gregory Jones, countered that many young people today are often influenced by pop culture and “tend to dress a certain way,” indicating that the suspect in the video was not his client.
At the beginning of the trial, one of the prosecution’s witnesses—a Baltimore City Police detective from the northwest district—told the jury that he responded to the gas station after the shooting was reported during a 911 call. From there, police found 17 shell casings and were able to identify the suspect’s silver Lexus and license plate number from video surveillance.
Morgan was apprehended later that evening when he crashed his car and attempted to run away from police.
Around 10:30 a.m. on Friday, the trial halted for a fire drill in the Mitchell Courthouse and never proceeded. Instead, Morgan accepted the prosecution’s plea while his mother wiped her tears as she rocked back and forth in her seat.
The prosecution offered Morgan two consecutive sentences of 20 years, suspending all but ten years for each count of attempted second-degree murder; and a concurrent sentence of five years without parole for firearm use in a felony violent crime. The defendant was also sentenced to five years of supervised probation upon his release and must register as a gun offender.
Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Schiffer informed the defendant that he must serve half of his sentence before being eligible for parole.
Jones concluded that his client grew up with the “wrong influences” and “made some bad decisions.”
“He understands what he did was wrong,” the defense attorney added.
Prior to the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Schiffer shared how the defendant would “have a life” after serving his time but that “these cases warrant a just sentence.”