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Vernon Lee EVANS Jr.





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Murder for hire
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: April 28, 1983
Date of birth: 1950
Victims profile: Susan Kennedy and David Scott Piechowicz
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Pikesville, Maryland, USA
Status: Sentenced to death in 1984

The United States Court of Appeals
For the Fourth Circuit


opinion 99-22


Vernon Lee Evans is a Maryland Death Row inmate. In 1984 He was convicted and sentenced to death together with drug kingpin Anthony Grandison for the 1983 murders of Susan Kennedy and David Scott Piechowicz. David Piechowicz and his wife Cheryl had been scheduled to testify against Grandison at trial on federal drug charges.

Evans's death sentence was overturned on appeal in 1991, however the following year a new jury again sentenced him to die. That sentence was upheld on direct appeal to the Maryland Court of Appeals in 1994, and a petition for post-conviction relief was denied in 1997. The US District Court for the District of Maryland denied Evans's federal habeas corpus petition in 1999, and in 2000 that decision was upheld by the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

Since then Evans has also filed motions for a new trial and to correct an illegal sentence, however those have all been denied as well. He was scheduled for execution in February 2006, but his execution was suspended. All executions in Maryland are currently on hold until the state drafts and approves new execution procedures.

He is a Death Row inmate who communicates with others through a blog.


Vernon Lee Evans

On April 28, 1983, Vernon Evans, for a fee of $9,000 to be paid by his friend, Anthony Grandison, murdered David Piechowicz and Susan Kennedy, deliberately, willfully, with premeditation, in cold blood.

Grandison wanted Piechowicz and his wife, Cheryl, killed to prevent them from testifying against Grandison in a pending drug case in Federal Court, and he hired Evans to do the job. The Piechowiczes were employed at the Warren House Motel.

Unbeknownst to Evans, Cheryl was not at work that day; her sister, Susan Kennedy, was substituting for her. Evans drove to the motel, walked into the lobby with a machine pistol, and fired nineteen bullets at the two victims.

For those crimes, he was twice sentenced to death. The first sentence was imposed following his trial in 1984. In 1991, that sentence was revoked on appeal because the sentencing form used during the sentencing had been declared unconstitutional in 1988. Following a new sentencing proceeding, Evans was again sentenced to death.

Evans claims he did not kill the couple, however, several witnesses, including his girlfriend, testified against him.


Vernon L. Evans, Jr.

A Baltimore County judge signed a warrant for the April 2005 execution of a longtime Maryland death row inmate. Vernon L. Evans Jr., 55, was convicted in 1984 of the contract murder of a federal witness and a bystander.

Judge Christian M. Kahl signed the death warrant two days after the Supreme Court refused to hear the latest appeal from Evans, who argued that he was wrongfully sentenced under harsher sentencing guidelines that took effect after he committed his crimes.

The judge ordered that Evans be put to death by lethal injection sometime during a five-day period that begins April 18. "It has been 22 years since this crime happened, so, for a lack of a better term, this has been a long time coming," John Cox, an assistant Baltimore County state's attorney said. Attorneys for Evans said that they will ask the court to stay the execution while they appeal the death sentence.

Evans and drug kingpin Anthony Grandison were convicted and sentenced to death in the April 1983 killing of David Scott Piechowicz and Susan Kennedy at the Warren House Motor Hotel in Pikesville.

Grandison paid Evans $9,000 to kill Piechowicz and his wife, Cheryl, who were to testify against Grandison in a federal drug trial. Kennedy was working for her sister Cheryl that day, and prosecutors said at trial that they believe Evans mistook Kennedy for her sister on the day of the killings.

The two victims were gunned down in the lobby of the motel in a brief burst of bullets from a MAC-11 machine-pistol with a silencer. Grandison remains on death row.  

UPDATE: The state's highest court has granted a stay to a death row inmate who had been scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection sometime during the week of April 18.

Vernon Evans Jr. had asked the Court of Appeals for more time to argue that his sentence should be overturned because of racial and geographical disparities in Maryland's application of the death penalty. The court scheduled oral arguments on the matter for June 7.

Evans was sentenced to death for the April 1983 killing of David Scott Piechowicz and Susan Kennedy at the Warren House Motor Hotel in Pikesville. In seeking a stay, Evans' attorneys noted the court has agreed to hear an appeal from death row inmate Wesley E. Baker in June.

Both Evans and Baker, as well as two other death row inmates, have asked the courts to overturn their sentences based on a January 2003 study by University of Maryland professor Raymond Paternoster that had been commissioned by the Legislature.

Paternoster found that black defendants who killed whites statistically were most likely to be charged with capital murder and sentenced to death in Maryland. He also found that the likelihood of prosecutors seeking capital murder charges in Baltimore County is 13 times greater than in Baltimore.

Evans and Baker are black. The victims in their cases, all of whom were white, were killed in Baltimore County. Baker was convicted in 1992 of fatally shooting a teacher's aide in front of her grandchildren in the parking lot of a Catonsville shopping center.


On Maryland's Death Row: Vernon Evans

By Vicki Kriz - Capital News Service

Friday, May 1, 2009

Vernon Lee Evans Jr., 59, convicted of a 1983 double murder at a Baltimore County motel, has been on death row for almost 25 years.

According to Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, if the death penalty is reinstated in Maryland, Evans would most likely be the first to face execution.

Evans was convicted of murdering David Scott Piechowicz and his sister-in-law, Susan Kennedy, at the Warren House Motel in Baltimore County on April 28, 1983.

According to court documents, Evans was hired by Anthony Grandison to kill Piechowicz and his wife, Cheryl, for a payment of $9,000. The pair were scheduled to testify against Grandison in a narcotics case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.  But having never seen his targets in person, Evans mistakenly killed Kennedy, who was filling in for her sister (Piechowicz’s wife) at the motel, where they were employees.

Evans shot Piechowicz and Kennedy with a MAC-11 machine pistol, firing 19 bullets, court records state.

Indictments were filed against both Evans and Grandison in U.S. District Court for witness tampering and violating the Piechowiczes’ civil rights to act as witnesses in a judicial proceeding. Both Evans and Grandison were convicted of these charges.

Four indictments were also filed against the two men in the Circuit Court of Baltimore County: two counts of first-degree murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder and one count of use of a handgun in the context of committing a crime of violence. Upon request, Evan’s trial was transferred to the Circuit Court for Worcester County.

According to court documents, the most damaging witness testimony came from Evans’ girlfriend, Charlene Sparrow, who told the jury she drove with Evans to the motel the night of the murders and was asked to wipe off the literally smoking gun Evans used that night.

Evans was found guilty in Worcester County Circuit Court of all crimes and was sentenced to death in 1984.

However, that sentence was later vacated, and Evans was granted a resentencing hearing.

Upon Evan’s request, his new sentencing hearing was transferred back to the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. At that hearing in 1992, he admitted he was involved in the murders of Piechowicz and Kennedy, but not as the “triggerman.” He apologized to the victims’ families for the pain he caused them as a result of his crimes. The jury concluded that Evans should indeed receive two death sentences. The Court of Appeals of Maryland agreed with this decision.

On Feb. 24, 2005, the Court of Appeals ordered he be executed by lethal injection within five days of April 18, 2005.

Evans has appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals more than 10 times, with limited success. On Feb. 28, 2005, Evans made an appeal referencing a 2002 University of Maryland study conducted by Raymond Paternoster, professor of criminology and criminal justice. The study found that prosecutors were more likely to seek the death penalty for African-American offenders whose victims were white -- especially in Baltimore County, where Evans was on trial. Evans claimed such discrimination affected the course of his sentencing. The Court of Appeals concluded that Evans’ appeal was unfounded, stating that there was no evidence that the state’s attorney, the judge ruling on the case, or the jury were influenced by any of these factors in determining his sentence.

Evans would use the Paternoster study in several future appeals. However, they were never successful.

But on Feb. 6, 2006, Maryland’s Court of Appeals granted Evans a stay of execution based on his argument that Maryland’s execution protocol was being implemented illegally --since it had not been presented at a public hearing or been reviewed by state lawmakers.

All executions were put on hold until the legislature approved a new protocol. The protocol is currently under review.

Vernon Evans is one of the five men now on Maryland’s death row.



Vernon Lee Evans Jr.



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