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Inmate gets life in 2004 slaying of his cellmate

February 02, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Despite his attorneys' efforts to have him placed in Patuxent Institution for treatment of his psychological disorders, an inmate who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last month in the death of his 16-year-old Maryland Correctional Training Center cellmate was sentenced Tuesday to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Kevin G. Johns, 22, pleaded guilty on Jan. 10 to premeditated first-degree murder for the Jan. 23, 2004, strangling death of Armad Cloude in a cell the two shared at the prison south of Hagerstown.

At the time of the slaying, Johns was serving 35 years for a March 2003 first-degree murder conviction in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

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Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III sentenced Johns to serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole to run consecutively with the sentence he already was serving.

Wright pronounced sentence after a series of defense witnesses testified that Johns had psychological problems and would benefit from being placed in a prison program where he would receive treatment. Patuxent Institution is a state facility that has treatment programs for mentally ill inmates.

"This court does not feel that a life sentence with the possibility of parole would be to the benefit of the community," Wright said.

Johns let out a single "Ha" upon hearing his sentence. He chuckled loudly as court deputies and correctional officers led him back to a holding cell.

Karen Stokes, Cloude's aunt, said after the hearing that it bothered her that defense witnesses, including inmates who knew Johns, and social workers, testified that Johns needed psychological treatment.

"If you were going to seek treatment for a person, don't seek it after the fact. You don't wait for the second time," Stokes said.

Johns looked directly at Stokes and Cloude's mother, Lily Morton, when he apologized in the courtroom for the murder. "What I did was wrong," he said, adding shortly afterward, "It's not like I want to go around killing people. But, yes, I will do it again. If I feel like my life is in danger, I'm gonna do what I have to, to protect myself."

Johns said he was not taking medicine prescribed for psychological disorders at the time of Cloude's murder.

Stokes sobbed when Wright said Johns would not be eligible for parole. She walked out of the courtroom, hunched over and crying. Morton, whose eyes were filled with tears, followed her.

Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael told Wright that Johns' first murder conviction was for the death of Johns' uncle in February 2002. He said that Johns killed his uncle in a vacant Baltimore house by "strangling him with a belt." He said Johns wasn't sure his uncle was dead so he tried to cut his throat with a saw, but then "cut his throat with a box cutter."

At MCTC, Johns said he was doing Cloude's hair when he decided to choke him. Cloude "was always talking to his little (expletive) buddies, saying he gonna do this, he gonna do that and all that stuff," according to Johns' written statement about the murder.

At the time of his death, Cloude was serving 12 years for second-degree murder.

Inside the segregated cell where Cloude's body was found, Johns left a contract with Satan he drafted, listing his "requirements" for the devil to "get his soul," including "I always want serial killer books to read or Sidney Sheldon books."

At the bottom of the contract, Johns' full name and "Satan," were written in the same handwriting and flames were drawn around the word "Satan."

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