- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2005

A federal jury sentenced a Hillcrest Heights man to death yesterday for kidnapping and shooting the son of a D.C. police officer in 2002, only the second time the death penalty has been imposed in a Maryland federal court since the punishment was reinstated in the 1970s.

Kenneth Lighty, 23, leaned back in his chair at the defense table but otherwise showed little emotion as the foreman of the jury of 11 men and one woman read the verdict. His family and friends in the courtroom let out a loud groan as the sentence was announced.

Lighty was convicted Oct. 21 of murder and kidnapping for abducting Eric L. Hayes II from a Southeast street on Jan. 23, 2002. Mr. Hayes was driven to Prince George’s County, where he was shot execution-style in the head and body.

Another man, James Flood III, 28, of the District, also was convicted of kidnapping and murder but faces a life sentence, not death, when he is sentenced Jan. 11. Two others also were found guilty of lesser charges.

During his trial, prosecutors said Lighty took part in a fatal drive-by shooting three weeks after Mr. Hayes was killed. He was also on probation for a drug crime at the time of the murders.

“The way they did my son and later on killed someone else was unbelievable,” Metropolitan Police Lt. Eric Hayes, father of the victim, said after the verdict. He called the death sentence “just.”

Lighty’s attorney, Jeffrey O’Toole, said an appeal would be filed.

Lighty will join Dustin Higgs as Maryland’s only inmates on federal death row when he is formally sentenced Feb. 3 by U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte. Higgs was sentenced to die in 2001 for killing three women in 1996.

In a case that took place at the same time in a courtroom next to Lighty’s, a District Heights man escaped a possible death sentence when a jury convicted him yesterday of second-degree murder for shooting and stabbing a federal informant.

James Allen Irby could have been sentenced to death if found guilty of first-degree murder for killing Terrence Deadwyler on March 28, 2003. Instead, he faces a penalty of life in prison without parole when he is sentenced Feb. 13. He also was convicted of arson and a gun charge.

Irby was accused of shooting Mr. Deadwyler three times, stabbing him 174 times and setting his apartment on fire to conceal the crime.

Prosecutors said the murder was revenge for Mr. Deadwyler telling federal authorities about an illegal gun in the D.C. apartment Irby shared with his father. Under federal law, a defendant can be sentenced to death if convicted of killing a federal informant.

Irby’s attorneys admitted during his trial that he murdered Mr. Deadwyler, but said it was not retribution. They argued that Irby blamed Mr. Deadwyler for his father’s death, thinking a search of the Irby home in 2001 by federal agents traumatized the elder man and led to his death two months later.

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