Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Plea comes in gang murder

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The Gaithersburg teen indicted for killing a rival gang member near the Lakeforst Transit Center in November pleaded guilty last week to second-degree murder. He faces up to 30 years in jail.

Ronald Antoine, 17, of the 400 block of North Summit Drive, did not speak during the April 24 court hearing other than to tell the Montgomery County Circuit Court judge that he understood the terms of the plea, and that he had been considering it for about a month.

Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Wennar agreed to ask the court to limit the sentence to 25 years. That recommendation is not binding.

Antoine is set for sentencing in July. Rene Sandler, Antoine’s defense attorney, said she would bring an expert witness to testify so he can possibly serve his time at the Patuxent Institute, a state psychiatric facility.

Sandler had attempted to have the case tried in juvenile court. Antoine was 16 at the time of the stabbing.

The Nov. 5 stabbing near the Lakeforest Transit Center of Robert Troy Jackson Jr., 21, of Germantown was the second of four gang attacks near transit centers within a week in Rockville and Gaithersburg. Several people have been charged in connection with the incidents.

The attacks, between Nov. 5 and Nov. 12, also left one man with serious stab wounds, one with minor stab wounds and two with gunshot wounds.

Antoine stabbed and slashed Jackson a dozen times at the transit center during the afternoon rush hour, according to Wennar and police statements.

Jackson died the next day. That afternoon, a then-26-year-old Gaithersburg man was stabbed on Odenhal Avenue, allegedly in retaliation for Jackson’s death.

Antoine was identified by a witness who told police that he had stabbed with Jackson with ‘‘a long kitchen knife.”

In a Nov. 14 interview with police, Antoine admitted to the stabbing, Wennar said. He was indicted Nov. 30 for murder, conspiracy to commit murder and carrying a weapon. Those charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.