WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear the appeal of a Baltimore contract killer who said prosecutors reneged on a promise to help reduce his sentence, in exchange for his cooperation in busting a drug kingpin.
Larry Andrews claimed that not only did prosecutors break a written promise to show up at his parole hearing and recommend his release, but they reneged on a verbal pledge to make sure that he got out of prison after 10 or “no more than 11” years.
The high court, without comment, let stand lower court rulings that found “no reversible error” and rejected Andrews claim.
Andrews could have faced the death penalty or life without parole for the Sept. 23, 1986, contract murder of Zachary Roach in Baltimore, but he agreed to work with prosecutors in an effort to nab heroin dealer Warren Boardley. Andrews was Boardley’s bodyguard at the time, according to court records.
In exchange for secretly taping Boardley, prosecutors agreed in writing to offer Andrews a life sentence and to show up at his first parole hearing. Andrews went to jail in 1987 and was up for parole 10 years later.
Andrews held up his end of the deal, collecting taped evidence against Boardley, who was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 47 years in prison, according to court records.
But prosecutors did not hold up their end of the agreement. When Andrews’ first parole hearing came up, no one from either the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office was there to speak on his behalf.
Then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Armentrout wwas the only prosecutor still working in either office in 1997 who had been there when the original deal was cut in 1987. Armentrout said in an affidavit that she “was unable to obtain a copy of Mr. Andrews’ file or plea agreement.”
“If I had secured a copy of Mr. Andrews’ plea agreement prior to his parole hearing, I certainly would have assured the government’s compliance with its obligation to send such an agent,” her affidavit said.
Andrews also claimed in court documents that then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Gersh told him at the time of the plea bargain that the written deal was “just for the public.” Gersh guaranteed Andrews “no more than 11 years” behind bars, according to court documents.
Gersh did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Andrews’ appeal includes affidavits from witnesses who said they heard Gersh promise him release after 10 years. Among the witnesses were former Internal Revenue Service agent Ronald Gronski, Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon and a former detective, Edward Burns.
None of the reported witnesses could be contacted for comment.
But lower courts rejected Andrews argument that the state should honor the reported verbal agreement and the high court refused Monday to intervene.