A Fort Washington man on Monday pleaded guilty to manslaughter for leading police on a chase in 2012 that caused the death of a Prince George’s County officer.
A judge sentenced Kevon Darnell Neal, 24, to 13 years in prison for the death of Officer Adrian Morris, 23. The sentence includes four years Neal must serve after also pleading guilty to one count of witness intimidation. Neal admitted sending a letter from jail soliciting the killing of a witness involved in his case.
Circuit Court Judge Michael R. Pearson said that not only did Neal’s actions lead to the death of a police officer, but they also put the lives of other drivers at risk.
“The complete disregard for everyone else who was out there that day was shocking,” Pearson said before sentencing Neal.
Authorities say Neal and another man tried to steal a woman’s purse at a Laurel gas station and fled from Morris and his partner in a stolen car. During the chase, Neal wove in and out of traffic down Interstate 95 at speeds of more than 120 mph, causing Morris to lose control of his police cruiser. Morris, who was not wearing his seat belt, was thrown from the car.
Pearson said he was disappointed that Neal did not take full responsibility for his actions based on a letter he wrote asking someone to kill a witness who had already testified against him at his trial and planned to do so again. Neal’s case had gone to trial in January but a judge declared a mistrial after a juror pulled out of deliberations.
Neal, wearing a yellow prison jumpsuit, spoke during his sentencing. His lawyer earlier detailed Neal’s troubled upbringing, saying Neal was raised by his grandmother because of an absentee mother and a dead father.
“I’m a good person if you get to know me,” Neal said after apologizing to Morris’s family. “I just made some bad choices.”
After Neal’s sentencing, Morris’s mother Sherrin Crosdale said she thought justice was served but that she grieves daily for her son.
“It will not fill the void that’s in my heart,” Crosdale said.
Crosdale and Morris’s colleagues said he had wanted to become a police officer since he was a teenager and had been on the county force for 21 / 2 years.
Prince George’s Police Chief Mark A. Magaw said that although Morris died two years ago, the loss still haunts the department.
“The pain we felt then, we feel now,” Magaw said.
Last fall, the passenger in the car Morris chased, Kenneth Mitchell, was sentenced to 14 months of time served after he pleaded guilty to auto theft.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said she was pleased by the outcome of the case.
“Officer Morris really was a shining star in this department,” Alsobrooks said. “We’re standing here for him today.”