A Prince George's County man implicated in a series of drug-related shootings and killings was sentenced yesterday to life in prison for the slayings of two New York men who were abducted from a Temple Hills motel and robbed of cash and cocaine.
The defendant, Lorenzo Hazel, 23, of Oxon Hill, described by authorities as a widely feared drug dealer and enforcer, was the focus of intense investigation by Prince George's police in 1987.
Besides the killings of the New York men, Hazel eventually was charged in two other slayings and two shootings, all drug-related, and the kidnapping of two other drug dealers who were abducted at a stoplight, threatened with a shotgun, beaten and robbed of jewelry.
Yet Hazel, in most of those cases, was able to skate through the criminal justice system, said Assistant State's Attorney Jeffrey Harding. In one slaying and a related shooting, he was convicted only as an accessory after the fact. In a second killing, another shooting and the abduction and robbery, the charges were dropped after prosecutors said that they lacked solid evidence or that witnesses had become reluctant to testify.
In one of the shootings and in one of the killings, the victims were potential witnesses against Hazel in a drug-related slaying.
Hazel was convicted last month in the slayings of the New York men and sentenced yesterday to two life terms.
Under Maryland prison rules, with two consecutive life sentences, Hazel must serve about 30 years before he can be considered for parole.
In 1987, according to trial testimony, Hazel and a New York man were involved in a dispute over drug-dealing turf in Prince George's.
On Aug. 4, 1987, according to investigators, Hazel and two other men abducted two associates of the New York dealer from the Branch Avenue Motor Lodge. The victims, Rudy and Jerome Williams, both 18, who were cousins, were robbed of cash and about $800,000 worth of cocaine, driven to a wooded area, stripped of their clothes and shot to death execution style.
The killings were among several incidents of drug-related violence in a four-month period that year in which Hazel was implicated.
On May 23, 1987, he allegedly was among four men who opened fire at a Hyattsville apartment complex, killing one man and wounding another in what police said was a battle over drug-dealing territory. Hazel, arrested months later and charged with murder, was convicted only of being an accessory after the fact. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
The case gained wide notice because a fifth suspect, Derrick Fenner, was a star collegiate football player. Fenner, who now plays for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League, was later cleared by police of any involvement in the shootings. He testified at Hazel's trial in 1988 that he knew the suspects and occasionally had sold drugs.
In July 1987, while police were still investigating the Hyattsville shootings, a Southeast Washington man whose car had been used by the assailants was abducted, driven to a rural area of Prince George's, stripped of his clothes and shot to death execution style.
On Aug. 11, 1987, the alleged getaway driver in the Hyattsville shootings was shot several times by three assailants and "left for dead," though he later recovered, according to another police affidavit.
Police said in court affidavits that the two men were shot because they were potential witnesses against Hazel.
Hazel eventually was charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of the Southeast Washington man and attempted murder in the shooting of the alleged getaway driver. But charges were dropped in both cases.
Numerous felony charges against Hazel also were dropped in the July 29, 1987, abduction and robbery of two rival drug dealers in Oxon Hill.
Hazel, who was serving the five-year prison term for the Hyattsville shootings when police charged him in the slayings of the New York men, told Circuit Court Judge William H. McCullough yesterday that he was wrongly accused.
"I killed no one," he said. "I am not a menace to society."