A co-defendant in the double-murder of a well-known Newark appraiser and his wife inside their Elkton, Md., home in February 2014 must serve his full 19-year sentence, after a judge ruled Monday that he violated terms of a plea agreement that would have allowed him to shave at least two years off his penalty.
Cecil County Circuit Court Administrative Judge Keith A. Baynes concluded that Azu Nnachi Azuewah, 27, of Port Deposit, Md., failed to honor his end of a plea deal when he declined to testify against one of his co-defendants, Kevin Cooper, 25, of Elkton, during his murder trial in March.
On March 4 — two days after Azuewah had taken the witness stand but immediately declined to testify — a jury acquitted Cooper of all charges, including two counts of first-degree murder, after deliberating for four hours. Later that day, Cooper was freed from the Cecil County Detention Center, where he had been a pre-trial inmate for 13 months.
“The court finds that the defendant violated his plea agreement. He did not testify,” Baynes commented from the bench at the end of Monday’s brief modification-of-sentence hearing.
The hearing had been scheduled after Azuewah’s defense lawyer, Larry Polen, of Towson, had filed a motion to reduce his client’s sentence by two years in accordance with a plea agreement Azeuwah accepted last year.
Deputy State’s Attorney Steven L. Trostle, however, argued that Azuewah had not fulfilled his plea-deal obligation.
In August 2015, as part of that plea deal, Azuewah pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit home invasion and, in exchange, prosecutors dropped two counts of first-degree murder and related charges. Also part of that plea agreement, Azuewah received a 19-year sentence.
Sweetening that deal even more, prosecutors agreed to reduce Azuewah’s sentence by two-year increments if he testified truthfully against Cooper and another co-defendant, Derrick Lamonte Carroll, 27, also of Elkton — giving Azuewah the chance to lower his sentence to 15 years.
His last opportunity to shave two years off his 19-sentence is less likely now. After Azuewah had blindsided Trostle during Cooper’s trial, his opportunity is predicated on prosecutors taking the chance of calling Azuewah to testify against Carroll, whose murder trial is scheduled to start Dec. 1 and expected to last eight days. Carroll is facing two counts of first-degree murder and numerous other charges.
Police and prosecutors alleged in court records that Cooper and Carroll broke into a home in the 100 block of West Parkway in the Glen Farms neighborhood on the night of Feb. 22, 2015, and killed the homeowners, Earl Loomis, 79, and his wife, MaryAnn, 76, by asphyxiating them, before stealing numerous guns, credit cards, money and a pickup truck.
Azuewah did not enter the home with Cooper and Carroll, but he did drive them to or near the Loomis’ residence to commit the home invasion, according to prosecutors.