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Demetrius Smith

Other Maryland Exonerations
On March 24, 2008, 36-year-old Robert Long was found lying on the ground next to railroad tracks near Carroll Park in Baltimore, Maryland. He had been fatally shot in the head.

Demetrius Smith, 25, was arrested on July 10, 2008 and charged with first-degree murder after police found two witnesses who said they were in the park at the time of the murder and identified Smith as the gunman.

The case made headlines when a judge, in a rare move in a first-degree murder case, set Smith’s bond at $350,000. Smith posted bond a day later. But he was locked up again on August 24, 2008, when he was charged with shooting a neighbor in the leg during an attempted robbery.

Smith went to trial on the murder charge in Baltimore City Circuit Court in January 2010.

Michelle McVicker testified that she was walking to her methadone treatment program when she saw Smith and Long engaged in conversation, walking toward the railroad tracks.  She was unsure of the location of the murder and could not remember if she heard two shots or three (two shell casings were found next to Long’s body). She said that she saw Long running before he was shot, although in a previous statement to authorities, she said he was running after he was shot.

A medical examiner testified that Long was shot at close range while he was standing.

Mark Bartlett, a convicted thief and drug dealer, testified that he was standing at a pay phone near the park trying to purchase heroin when he saw Long and Smith walk out of an alley toward the railroad tracks.

Bartlett said he knew both men. He said he had known Long since kindergarten and that he had known Smith for about two years during which he purchased heroin from Smith and also sold him heroin.

Bartlett said that Long came to his door early on the morning of March 24th with two other men and they wanted to trade heroin for crack cocaine. Bartlett said that he made the deal and recognized the heroin because of its unique packaging—gel caps that were sealed with transparent tape. Bartlett said that only Smith sold heroin in that form and so he believed that somehow Long had stolen Smith’s stash, which he estimated was worth $7,000.

Bartlett said he saw Smith shoot Long in the face. He told the jury that he had been arrested for a probation violation on May 8, 2008 and reached out to police to tell them about the shooting. He identified Smith in a photographic lineup and in court.

A police detective testified that he located McVicker from confidential informants.

Smith’s attorney, in his cross-examination of detectives, suggested that the real killer was José Morales, a long-time drug dealer and conman, for whom Long had worked for years. Thirteen days before Long was killed, he had agreed to cooperate with law enforcement in prosecuting Morales.

Smith’s sister testified that Smith was home at the time of the murder. A woman who operated a community service program near where Long was killed testified she was in the park when she heard gunfire and saw a young black man flee the park wearing a hooded sweatshirt. She said the man was not Smith.

On January 19, 2010, Smith was convicted of first-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime. He was sentenced to life in prison. He then entered an Alford plea to the shooting in the unrelated attempted robbery case and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The prosecution agreed to a demand on behalf of Smith by attorney Michelle Nethercott of the University of Baltimore School of Law's Innocence Project that the plea agreement include a provision that if he were exonerated of the murder, he would be allowed to return to court and vacate his Alford plea.

While the case was on appeal, federal authorities were investigating Morales for smuggling narcotics. The investigation turned up evidence that Morales ordered Long killed after learning that Long was cooperating with authorities attempting to prosecute him.

On August 1, 2012, state prosecutors asked that Smith’s conviction be vacated and the case was dismissed. By that time, McVicker had recanted her trial testimony as false and Bartlett was dead.

On September 11, 2012, Morales, who by then was serving a nearly 22-year prison term for narcotics trafficking, was indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of using his mobile telephone to order the killing of Long. In February 2013, Morales pled guilty to smuggling narcotics into the federal prison where he was serving his drug sentence.
In May 2013, Smith was released on the robbery case. In October 2013, Morales was convicted on the federal charge of using his phone to order Long’s murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.

In September 2017, a federal jury convicted Troy Allen Lucas of firing the shots that killed Long. Federal prosecutors presented evidence that Morales paid Lucas in cash and cocaine to kill Long. Lucas, who was a member of a gang called “Dead Man Inc.,” called Morales’s cell phone minutes after the murder to advise that the “job” was done. Lucas’s conviction carried a maximum penalty of life in prison.
In January 2018, Smith returned to court on the robbery case and, over the objections of the prosecution, Judge Barry Williams resentenced Smith to probation prior to judgment. The witness in that case had since provided a sworn affidavit recanting her identification of Smith and said she was pressured by detectives to identify him. Having served his probation, the robbery conviction was then removed from his record.

On January 19, 2018, Lucas was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years.

Smith filed a claim for state compensation. In 2023, the Maryland Board of Public Works awarded Smith $316,000 in compensation.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 3/12/2013
Last Updated: 9/20/2023
County:Baltimore City
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2008
Age at the date of reported crime:25
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No