Guilty Pleas in Stripper-Murder Drug Case, Warrant Sought for Missing Witness
The fate of “the McCants-Baker organization” yet to be determined
Published: November 7, 2012
The federal trial in the drug-dealing murder case involving 25-year-old victim Cherrie Gammon, a Club Pussy Cat stripper on Baltimore’s Block (“Laid Bare,” Mobtown Beat, Oct. 3), is scheduled for three weeks this month, but it has two fewer defendants thanks to guilty pleas entered by 42-year-old Monica McCants and 23-year-old Gary Thenor Cromartie. Meanwhile, investigators have been unable to contact a subpoenaed witness in the case—Cheryl Haywood, a 19-year-old who was a girlfriend of co-defendant Donte Bernard Baker, 22, when the alleged conspiracy was underway—and prosecutors have asked a judge to issue an arrest warrant to bring her to court.
The four defendants—McCants, Baker, Cromartie, and 30-year-old Tyrone Johniken—are charged with conducting a drug-dealing racketeering enterprise from at least 2008 until Jan. 25, 2012, and with conspiring to murder Gammon, who was shot to death near West Baltimore’s Leon Day Park on Dec. 12, 2010, because she was suspected of stealing drugs and giving police information about the crew’s drug business. Prosecutors say the operation, dubbed “the McCants-Baker organization,” made $14,000 per week, using strippers to supply heroin and cocaine to customers on the Block.
Cromartie pleaded guilty Nov. 1, admitting to his role in the racketeering enterprise, Gammon’s murder, and the heroin and coke dealing. McCants entered her plea on Oct. 4, copping to racketeering and drug dealing, but not to the murder conspiracy, and court documents state that she’s expected to testify at trial. On Oct. 26, McCants filed a motion to withdraw her plea, saying facts she’s admitting to—mostly regarding the amounts of drugs involved—aren’t true, but she withdrew the motion on Oct. 31.
Haywood, meanwhile, was subpoenaed to appear as a witness on Oct. 31, but didn’t show up. The investigator who served her with the subpoena on Oct. 17 explained in an affidavit that Haywood has “material evidence” about Baker’s alleged drug dealing on the Block, his possession of a gun, and his phone, which was replaced with a new one the day Gammon was murdered. But Haywood, the affidavit states, “has on several occasions expressed a desire to have nothing to do with the present investigation,” and without an arrest warrant to assure her appearance, “her testimony will probably be lost to the Court and the jury, and justice will be undermined.”