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Annapolis hitman pleads guilty to first degree murder, and using a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence

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Posted at 5:41 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 17:45:59-05

ANNE ARUNDEL, Md. — The Anne Arundel County State's Attorney's Office announced Wednesday that Michael Gibson, of Annapolis, had entered a guilty plea to first-degree murder and using a firearm during the commission of a violent crime in the death of Leslie Saunders, 50.

Gibson, 23, was paid $3,200 by Thomas Smith to kill Saunders following a verbal altercation between the victim and Smith’s mother.

"It’s shocking that a verbal argument prompted Thomas Smith to hire Gibson to kill Mr. Saunders and that Gibson was willing to commit such a heinous crime for money. Not only was this murder cold and calculated, but it now leaves three men’s lives - and their family’s lives - devastated." said State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess.

According to police reports, at approximately 6:23 p.m., Annapolis police officers responded to a call of shots fired in the area of Bens Drive in Annapolis on March 15. When they arrived, police located an unresponsive male suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, which MEs later determined was Saunders.

The 50-year-old, who was a long-term boyfriend of Smith’s mother, had a verbal argument that day that led to her being taken to the hospital by ambulance due to a medical concern shortly thereafter.

Surveillance video showed the defendant first meeting up with the 23-year-old in the 1100 block of Madison Street. A short time after Smith drove the hitman to the area of Marcs Court in Annapolis where the victim was walking in the same community a block away.

Gibson shot the victim and then fled the neighborhood where Smith was waiting nearby in his F-150 truck. Detectives tracked the two men as they fled the area.

Gibson will be sentenced on April 26, and Smith will be sentenced on March 31.