Though prosecutors couldn’t make the case against any of the six defendants charged in the death of Freddie Gray, sentencing continues for destructive rioters who took to the streets after his funeral on April 27, 2015.


Darius Raymond Stewart (Screengrab WBAL news report)

Darius Raymond Stewart, 22, was sentenced to five years in prison Aug. 4 for setting fire to one of the many liquor stores lining West North Avenue.

U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis also ordered Stewart to pick up the $378,526.56 tab for repairing and restoring the building. After his prison term, there will also be three years of supervised release.

“Surveillance cameras recorded Darius Stewart setting fire to a store with people inside, while other rioters viciously attacked the store owner,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in a statement released by the Department of Justice. “When the evidence proves that criminals destroyed property and jeopardized lives, they must be held accountable.”

According to the Department, as the city spiraled out of control, two waves of rioters flooded into the liquor store that Steward carefully set on fire. Camera footage shows him tending to the blaze with paper and cardboard from the street.


(AP Photo/ Juliet Linderman)

The situation quickly escalated. As one storeowner was being beaten, another sought refuge on the second floor as looters spread through the building. Authorities say the gutter was his only recourse as he tried to break his fall from the balcony. Inside, a man also lay unconscious until firefighters put out the fire and found him suffering from “smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning” in the basement.

Stewart is one of several Baltimoreans charged with arson and other crimes that occurred during last year’s unrest.

Raymon Carter, 25, has already been sentenced to a four-year prison term and $500,000 in restitution for his role in the riots. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Carter plead guilty and admitted to the “federal crime of rioting, including the arson of the CVS Pharmacy.”

Twenty-year-old Donta Betts will spend the next 15 years in prison for firing a weapon while he trafficked drugs just months after “making a destructive device” during the riots.

Trevon Green is scheduled to receive his sentence on Aug. 24, at 3 p.m. The 23-year-old told authorities he beat the owner of the liquor store he looted as Stewart set the property ablaze.

Gregory Lee Butler Jr., 22, also decided to accept a plea agreement for obstructing firefighters during the riots – a federal crime. Butler, who also goes by the moniker, “Greg Baly,” is set to be sentenced for his crimes on Sept. 20, 2016. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is still pursuing rioters responsible for property damage, assaults, and other crimes related to the unrest. Anyone with information is asked to call the ATF hotline, 1-888-ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3473). There is a $10,000 reward for tips that lead to an arrest and conviction.


Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer