- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 15, 2008

BALTIMORE | Two young men with lengthy rap sheets were charged Friday with first-degree murder in the slaying of former City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr., Baltimore police said.

Charles Y. McGaney, 19, and Gary A. Collins, 20, were arrested without incident Friday by members of the city’s warrant apprehension task force, police spokesman Sterling Clifford said. Charges against the men include first-degree murder and armed robbery.

In an unusual move for city police, Mr. McGaney was brought into police headquarters through the front door, past waiting television cameras and reporters.

“No, no, no, no, no,” he said when asked whether he had killed Mr. Harris. “I don’t know nothing.”

Mr. Harris was shot during a robbery outside a friend’s jazz club in Northeast Baltimore in September. A surveillance video showed three people, one of whom appeared to be holding a Halloween skeleton mask similar to one found at the scene. All three assailants wore masks during the robbery and shooting, police said.

Investigators still don’t know the identity of the third person involved, Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld said.

“This was a senseless crime. They will have to pay,” Mayor Sheila Dixon said. “And we have to send the kind of message, particularly to our young people, that this is unacceptable and this is something that they’re not going to get away with.”

Mr. Harris, a Democrat, served on the City Council from 1999 to last year. He gave up his seat to run for City Council president and lost in a three-way primary.

Investigators collected DNA evidence at the shooting scene, and that, along with other forensic evidence, led to the charges against Mr. McGaney, Commissioner Bealefeld said.

Mr. McGaney lives near the jazz club and detectives had spoken to him during their investigation, Mr. Clifford said. His name was added to a list of possible suspects and was gradually moved to the top, Commissioner Bealefeld said.

According to online court records, Mr. McGaney pleaded guilty in August to a gun-possession charge and was sentenced to time served. Last year, he pleaded guilty in Baltimore County to malicious destruction of property.

He also has arrests on his record for drug possession, theft, trespassing, loitering and disorderly conduct. A woman took out a protective order against him last year.

Mr. Collins, of suburban Parkville, is awaiting trial on drug-dealing and gun charges, records show. He was convicted last year on a handgun charge. He’s also been arrested for attempted armed robbery, second-degree assault, burglary and malicious destruction of property.

Mr. Harris’ widow, Annette Harris, stood alongside the mayor and police commissioner as the charges were announced. She said police could prevent further slayings by following her husband’s suggestions about the need for neighborhood foot patrols and community engagement.

“I want justice to prevail,” Mrs. Harris said, “not only in Kenneth’s case, but for every citizen of Baltimore city who has lost a loved one due to senseless murder.”

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