Police: Man charged with 'trying to put a hit out' on corrections officer

Officials said an inmate tried to have a CO killed after his request to move to a different cell wasn't granted


By Bob Blubaugh
Carroll County Times

WESTMINSTER, Md. — A Hampstead man incarcerated at the Carroll County Detention Center became angry when his request for a move to a different cell was not granted and tried to have a correctional officer killed because of it, according to law enforcement.

John Anthony Kidwell, of the 1000 block of Scarlet Oak Court, was served an indictment Friday, according to Maj. David Stem of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office. Kidwell was indicted by the Grand Jury of Carroll County on one count of solicitation to commit first degree murder.

Stem said Kidwell was in jail for an unrelated offense and requested to be moved. "We couldn't facilitate his request. He didn't like that, so for a matter that simple, he [verbally] threatened a correctional officer," Stem said.

Kidwell told correctional officers on Feb. 22 that he would make a phone call and have a hit squad waiting outside the detention center for the correctional officer, "and they wouldn't be armed with knives," according to a memorandum submitted by the state to Circuit Court.

That threat initiated a Sheriff's Office investigation that included listening to phone calls Kidwell made from inside the detention center. According to the memorandum, Kidwell said he needed to "fly a kite," jail slang for sending a message, and asked for the person's address and told the person to expect an important letter.

"Through the investigation, we realized that what he had done was try to contact some folks — unsuccessfully — from outside the jail, through this Dead Man Incorporated gang that he's affiliated with, and was requesting to put a hit out on a correctional deputy for this very minute detail of him not being moved from one cell to another," Stem said. "He made a couple of other phone calls [to friends and family members] which essentially said, 'Hey, once I set this in motion, I'm going to be here for a long time and once it's asked to be done, it can't be undone.'"

According to the memorandum, Kidwell said during a phone call to one of the relatives: "This is important, I got to take care of some business. I gotta get somebody wacked" and then instructed his relative to call the number and tell the person who answered that "I need a hit squad ready ... there is an officer here at the jail that needs to be hit immediately."

Because of the investigation and subsequent steps taken, Stem said the department did not believe the correctional officer was in danger, but they did take Kidwell's threats seriously.

"Had he gotten hold of somebody, we certainly think he would've put that plan into motion. Fortunately for our deputy, he didn't get that message out," Stem said.

Sheriff's Office detectives interviewed Kidwell on Feb. 23 and he allegedly admitted to making a call and ordering the murder of a corrections officer, according to the memorandum. When asked why he would do this, Kidwell stated "because he got all up in my face and started yelling at me and disrespecting me. ... [I]t doesn't matter who it is ... you disrespect me there's going to be consequences," according to the document.

Kidwell is represented by the Carroll County Public Defender's Officer, which did not respond to a request for comment on this case.

Stem said Kidwell would likely remain in the Carroll County Detention Center. According to the memorandum, Kidwell has nine previous convictions, including for arson and for a hate crime.

Stem explained the threshold for determining how seriously threats are taken from a legal perspective.

"With the law, you have to set something in motion. So me telling you I'm going to kill you is not necessarily in and of itself a crime," Stem said. "Me telling you I'm going to kill you and then calling somebody, especially when it involves gangs and known criminal associates, and saying, 'Hey, I want you to go kill this guy,' and we know they have the motive to do it, is a different scenario.

"Through our investigation with this, we had probable cause to believe that he was actually physically setting a series of events into motion. And that's what led to the charge."

Also on Friday, Kidwell agreed to plead not guilty but acknowledge the agreed-to statement of facts, which essentially acts as a guilty plea, on a pair of drug offenses.

He had been arrested in October and charged with four counts related to possessing controlled dangerous substances and paraphernalia. On Friday, he was sentenced to 71 days of jail time for one count of CDS possession.

He was arrested again in December and charged with 10 counts related to controlled dangerous substances. He was found guilty of one misdemeanor count of possession of contraband-place of confinement Friday and was sentenced to one year and one day of jail time.

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(c)2021 the Carroll County Times (Westminster, Md.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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