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Hyattsville 16 year old convicted in drug-related shooting of 14 year old in Laurel

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Posted at 11:37 AM, Oct 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-09 11:37:14-04

A 16 year old from Hyattsville was convicted in the 2017 shooting death of a 14 year old in Laurel, the Office of the State's Attorney for Howard County said.

Melvin A. Jacome, of the 6800 block of Ridge Road, was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges for the killing of Xavier Cole Young of Laurel.

The State's Attorney's Office said at about 11 p.m. on Oct. 28, 2017, police officers heard gun shots while responding to another call and headed to the 9000 block of N. Laurel Road. There, police found Young lying in the street, unresponsive and suffering from a "critical gunshot wound to the head." He was taken by medevac to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead two days later. 

Jacome was arrested along with another teen and a 19-year-old man within a week of the murder.

Police and witnesses testified at trial that the murder was a result of a one-on-one drug transaction, where the seller was going to short the buyer on a purchase of cannabis, and the buyer was planning on robbing the seller. Both buyer and seller brought back up, making both groups wary of the potential deal. 

Jacome and the buyer bailed on the transaction and returned to a black sedan, from which one shot was fired from an open car window as they drove away. The seller said he saw a green laser brush across his face before Young was shot. 

The 16-year-old driver of the car, Francisco Rodriguez, of Laurel, said that Jacome fired a 9mm Kel-tec pistol equipped with a laser sight from the car. The gun was never recovered. Rodriguez was originally charged with the murder but said he was offered a plea deal, being charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, in exchange for his testimony at trial. 

Cell phone data, as well as social media photos and videos of Jacome handling the gun described in the shooting were used as evidence. Texts showed Jacome discussing the robbery plan with friends and saying he "hit him with a hollow," referencing a hollow-point bullet, the State's Attorney's Office said. 

A 21-year-old who lived near Jacome temporarily helped hide the murder weapon. The man said Jacome told him, "he might have killed somebody that night," the State's Attorney's Office said.

Prosecutors tried to carefully lay out testimony and forensic evidence to secure their case at closing arguments. Jacome's defense attorney said the case was full of smoke and mirrors and challenged the character of the eye witnesses, who the State's Attorney conceded were not ideal, but "a bus full of nuns wasn't driving by a drug deal that night," Colleen McGuinn, Howard County Assistant State's Attorney said. 

The jury reached a guilty verdict after roughly four hours of deliberation. Besides the murder charge, Jacome was convicted of first-degree assault on the seller of the marijuana, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of a regulated firearm by someone under 21, reckless endangerment from a motor vehicle and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. 

Jacome will be sentenced at a Dec. 6 hearing. Rodriguez will be sentenced Oct. 10. The other 19-year-old Laurel man, Gerardo Ordonez, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery and a firearm charge. He will be sentenced on Oct. 18.