Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Murder in Shooting Over Stolen License Plates

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On April 1, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Charles H. Dorsey III accepted the guilty plea of a 31-year-old attempted murder defendant who shot a man for stealing his license plate.

Willie Harris-Stanley is charged with attempted first- and second-degree murder, first-degree assault, firearm use in a felony violent crime, firearm possession with a felony conviction, having a handgun on his person, having an unknown firearm in Baltimore City, illegal possession of ammunition and reckless endangerment in connection to an Aug. 1, 2023, shooting. 

Harris-Stanley agreed to the assistant state’s attorney’s plea offer of 30 years, suspending all but 10 years, for attempted second-degree murder and a consecutive sentence of 20 years, suspending all but eight years, the first five of which will be without the possibility of parole, for firearm use in a felony violent crime.

Harris-Stanley will serve five years of supervised probation, register as a gun offender and be ordered to stay away from the victim upon release. 

The defendant also pleaded guilty to a handgun charge stemming from his arrest in this case. The 10 year sentence for that crime will run concurrently to his attempted murder sentence. 

According to the statement of facts read by the prosecutor, Baltimore Police Department (BBD) officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert on the 1800 block of North Calvert Street. Upon arrival, they found the victim with three gunshot wounds.

Ring doorbell camera footage revealed the victim and defendant in a physical altercation over license plate tags on Harris-Stanley’s silver Acura MDX. Harris-Stanley shot the victim after he took the tag off of the front bumper of his car. The victim identified Harris-Stanley as his shooter in a photo array. 

The prosecutor said a woman known to the victim and Harris-Stanley stole the vehicle’s tags from the victim while he was at a casino.

Defense attorney Martin Cohen told Judge Dorsey his client was a father of two children who had a full-time job. Although the defendant was pleading guilty, he said there was a self-defense aspect to the case. Cohen said Harris-Stanley has at least two scars as a result of the fight with the victim, who used a screwdriver in the melee. Cohen also pointed out that the victim admitted the tags were not in fact his during a police interview. 

“[Harris-Stanley] is going to do so much to prove himself to your honor,” Cohen promised to the judge. His client was committed to pursuing drug treatment and anger management while in prison, as well as furthering his education beyond his high school diploma. 

Cohen announced his intention to file a motion to modify Harris-Stanley’s sentence after some period of good behavior, so his client would be eligible for release earlier than the nine years prescribed by his plea agreement. The assistant state’s attorney did not take a position for or against a modification during Monday’s hearing.

In his brief address to the court, Harris-Stanley said, “I just want to apologize for my behavior, your honor.”

Judge Dorsey sentenced Harris-Stanley in line with his plea agreement.

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