Murder Conviction in Fatal Easter Sunday Home Invasion/Shooting

11000 Block of Old Columbia Pike By Google Maps

In the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, MD, before Judge Harry Storm, defendant, Kaleab Berhanu, 21, of Baltimore, has been found guilty of First-Degree Murder, Conspiracy to Commit First-Degree Murder, Home Invasion, Conspiracy to Commit Home Invasion, and use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Crime of Violence for the shooting death of 20-year-old Montgomery County man, Carlos Carter.  The jury returned its verdict yesterday evening, Tuesday, March 19, 2024, after a six-day trial (statement of charges below).

 The defendant faces the potential of life in prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 18, 2024. This stems from an incident in the early morning hours of April 9, 2023. The defendant broke into the victim’s family home in the 11,000 block of Old Columbia Pike in Silver Spring and shot him multiple times, killing him. “This victim was asleep in his bed when he was attacked. He was shot multiple times as he attempted to escape the defendant and fell at the feet of his mother and siblings. We express our deepest condolences to the family, and we thank Assistant State’s Attorneys Peter Larson and Thea Zumwalt for seeing justice served in this matter,” said State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

Statement of charges: “On 04/09/23 at 3:22 AM Montgomery County Police oficers responded to 11877 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland for a report of an injured person. Upon arrival, officers found the victim suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The victim was transported to a local hospital and pronounced deceased. The victim was identified as the resident of 11877 Old Columbia Pike, Carlos Rashard Carter, a black male with date of birth of 12/02/02. The victim’s body was subsequently transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) for the State of Maryland and the manner of his death was ruled a homicide.

Scene investigation revealed the suspect(s) forced their way into the victim’s residence via the rear door and shot the victim inside. Ballistic evidence of different caliber was recovered fiom the crime scene leading your afiant to believe that multiple shooters were involved. A spent shell casing recovered fiom the crime scene was determined to be a Speer brand .45 caliber ammunition. A neighbor heard shots and observed a slim black male in a black balaclava style mask running away from the rear of the victim’s residence.

Victim’s family members were interviewed and asked about anyone that would want to hurt the victim. Family members brought up a subject nicknamed “KB”. Your affiant was advised that “KB” was involved in a prior shooting of a close friend of the victim, Malachi Valentin, a black male with date of birth of 4/20/03. Valentin survived that shooting but ended up paralyzed as the result. Victim’s family members advised, even though it was openly known that “KB” shot Valentin, Valentin did not cooperate with police on this matter.

Your affiant queried police databases and learned that Malachi Valentin was shot on 10/03/21 at 12:30 AM inside the residence located at 1811 Flint Hill Road, Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland. Your afliant contacted the 4th District detective section that investigated that shooting. The writer learned that Malachi Valentin failed to participate in that investigation and the case was administratively closed. Your affiant was further advised that even though Malachi Valentin was not cooperating with the investigation, Valentin’s mother contacted the detective section shortly thereafier. Valentin’s mother provided the name of the person who shot her son as “Kaleb Berhanu” nicknamed “KB”.

On 4/11/23 your afiiant responded to Malachi Valentin’s residence and interviewed him. Valentin stated that he was in fact shot by “KB” and paralyzed as the result. Valentin did not want to initially cooperate with the investigation because he did not want to be labeled a “snitch”. Valentin stated he was at a house party when “KB” entered the residence, wearing a balaclava style mask, and shot him. Valentin stated he and “KB” were once friends and he had known and hung out with “KB” for several years, so he immediately recognized “KB” through the mask eye opening.

Valentin identified a Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) photograph of Kaleab Berhanu, a black male with date of birth of 1 1/19/02 as “KB” and that he was in fact the person that shot him. Valentin explained that there has been an ongoing dispute with “KB”. Valentin stated on a previous occasion, he was present at the homicide victim’s Carlos Carter’s residence, when “KB” was robbed at gunpoint of an iPhone 11, 300 dollars, some “edibles” and marijuana. Victim Carlos Carter was also there, but it was not clear if he participated in the robbery of Kaleab Berhanu. This robbery occurred several years prior and that started a series of altercations with Berhanu. Valentin stated there were additional robberies and disagreements with “KB” as part of this ongoing dispute. Valentin stated he was alarmed when he heard that his friend Carlos Carter was murdered. Valentin stated he was extremely concerned for his welfare and the welfare of his family.

Valentin stated that Carlos Carter recently contacted him by text message and told him that he was following “KB” and his associate “Shawn” and that they were in a black Hyundai. Valentin stated that he did not ask the victim to follow “KB” and that he did not want the victim to be involved in this. Data from the victim’s cellular phone was extracted by the Electronic Crimes Unit. Your affiant observed the following text messages from the victim to Malachi Valentin on 3/17/23:

“Just seen kb and Shawn”, “Bra was dropping his girl oft”, “I followed they ass”, “He drive a black Hyundai”, “With tints”, “I should’ve got the tags but I ain’t gonna forgot that car”.

Your affiant conducted additional research into Kaleab Berhanu, AKA “KB”. On 10/24/22, Berhanu was arrested and charged with Loaded Handgun in Vehicle, Handgun on Person, CDS Distribution and other charges. Berhanu was stopped in a vehicle at the intersection of Columbia Pike and New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland. A loaded .40 caliber Glock, marijuana and Schedule V Controlled Substances were recovered. Two “black ski masks” were also recovered. At the time of the arrest, Berhanu was in the company of his girlfriend, Nina Marie O’Brien, a white female with date of birth of 5/28/04. A review of photos gathered from Berhanu’s social media accounts depicted him as a slim black male. In one of the photos, Berhanu was wearing a black balaclava style mask. Other photos depicted guns and large amounts of cash.

Several police reports provided the following cellular phone number for Kaleab Berhanu. Additionally, your affiant queried a database available to law enforcement with access to collection of public and proprietary records and this number came back associated with Kaleab Berhanu. Your affiant obtained a search warrant for phone records for 301-328-6500. Kaleab Berhanu was listed as the current subscriber for the phone number. The records included Timing Advance information, which identified the historical location of the device, delivered as longitude and latitude coordinates.

On 4/8/23 at 6:20 PM, the location indicated to be the 13100 Block of Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland. This location is 1.7 mile away from the homicide scene of 11877 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland. Afler 6:20 PM, there was no Timing Advance activity on the phone until the following day, 4/9/23 at 11:17 AM. Your afiiant wants to note the call for the homicide was on 4/9/23 at 3:22 AM. After 11:17 AM, the phone resumed almost minute to minute activations of Timing Advance activity for the duration of that day.Your afiant believes it is highly likely that the phone was not providing any Timing Advance information before and afier the homicide was because it was ofi, SIM was removed or because a different SIM was used to take 301-328-6500 offthe network.

On 4/13/23, your afliant obtained a court order requesting live location information of the phone using 301-328- 6500 as the number. T-Mobile began providing location information on the same day. Generally, the phone was located in the Baltimore area. At night, the phone appeared to be near llll Park Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland. Your afflant wants to note, Kaleab Berhanu’s girlfriend, Nina O’Brien’s Maryland driver’s license listed her address as llll Park Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland. A database available to law enforcement withaccess to collection of public and proprietary records listed her apartment number in that building as 1509.

Analysis of Kaleab Berhanu’s cellular phone records revealed that his phone routinely connected to cellular phone towers encompassing this building, including overnight. As part of this investigation, the .45 caliber spent shell casing from the homicide scene was entered into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). NIBIN, operated by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), compares images of submitted ballistic evidence from shooting scenes and recovered firearms and produces a list of possible similar results. Law enforcement uses NIBIN as a search tool to find multiple cartridge cases or bullets that likely were fired by the same firearm.

On 4/17/23, your amant received a NIBIN lead indicating the spent .45 shell casing from the scene of this homicide matched a case in Baltimore City. Your affiant obtained a Baltimore City Police Report indicating on 3/17/23, police responded to 1111 Park Avenue for a report of found property. Police were contacted by a maintenance manager of the apartment building who found three (3) spent .45 caliber shell casings and nineteen (19) 9mm shell casings in the building. Baltimore City Police submitted the recovered shell casings to evidence property.

Your amant recalled that 1111 Park Avenue was the address of Kaleab Berhanu’s girlfriend, Nina Marie O’Brien. Your affiant subsequently contacted the manager of the building and learned the following facts: The shell casings were found on the penthouse observation deck. Your affiant was advised that this was a secure apartment building and one needed a resident’s key fob to move throughout the building, including entering the observation deck.

While speaking to the manager, your affiant advised the manager that your affiant was following up on the recovered shell casings and that your affiant believed it was related to a resident of the building. The manager asked your afiiant if the resident was Nina O’Brien. When your affiant inquired about that name, the manager advised that a handgun was recently observed in her apartment. Your affiant learned that building management entered O’Brien’s apartment (1509) for an inspection, about 2 weeks prior, due to a complaint of dogs in that apartment. O’Brien was not allowed to have pets. Once in the apartment, building management personnel observed a large black semiautomatic handgun with an extended magazine laid out on the counter.

On 4/26/23, Baltimore Police released the spent shell casings found at 111] Park Avenue to the Montgomery County Police Crime Laboratory to be examined by the Firearms Examination Unit (FEU). On 5/2/23, your affiant was notified that the three Speer brand .45 caliber shell casings recovered from llll Park Avenue were microscopically compared to each other and the Speer brand .45 caliber shell casing recovered fiom the scene of this homicide. FEU concluded that the shell casings recovered fi’om 1111 Park Avenue and the shell casingfiom the scene of this homicide were fired fiom the same firearm.

On 4/20/23, undercover officers responded to llll Park Avenue. Nina O’Brien was observed leaving the apartment building and entering a black Hyundai with tinted windows. The Hyundai had Maryland license plates 3EX6439 and was parked near the building. O’Brien then moved the vehicle fi’om the street to the parking lot of the building and went back inside. Your affiant believes this to be the vehicle that the victim followed, a few weeks prior to his homicide, when he sent text messages stating, “Just seen kb and Shawn”, “Bra was dropping his girl ofi”, “I followed they ass”, “He drive a black Hyundai”, “With tints”, “I should’ve got the tags but I ain’t gonna forgot that car”.

Your affiant obtained a subpoena for License Plate Reader (LPR) data for Maryland State Police. The data revealed on 4/9/23 at 3:56 AM (34 minutes afier the call for the homicide) this vehicle was recorded travelling Northbound on Interstate 95 by Cherry Hill in Prince George’s County Maryland. This location is approximately 8.5 miles away from the scene of the homicide.

Based on the above stated facts your affiant believes the following: The victim, Carlos Carter, was involved in an ongoing dispute with the suspect, Kaleab Berhanu. Your affiant has probable cause to believe that Berhanu shot and paralyzed Malachi Valentin, a close friend of the victim. A few weeks prior to the homicide, the victim followed Kaleab Berhanu, Berhanu’s girlfriend and another associate. Your amant believes at that time, Kaleab Berhanu was travelling in a black Hyundai with tinted windows. The same vehicle was observed parked.

Approximately nine (9) hours before the homicide (6:20 PM), Kaleab Berhanu’s cellular phone location was provided as 13100 Block of Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland. This location is 1.7 mile away from the homicide scene. Based on the review of the phone records, your affiant believes Kaleab Berhanu’s cellular phone service was turned ofi shortly thereafter.

The homicide took place around 3:22 AM. The above stated Hyundai was captured at 3:56 AM (34 minutes after the call for the homicide) travelling Northbound on Interstate 95 by Cherry Hill in Prince George’s County Maryland. This location is approximately 8.5 miles away from the scene of the homicide. Your affiant believes, Kaleab Berhanu’s cellular phone was turned back on around 8:52 AM (approximately 5 and a half hours after the homicide). At that point, the phone connected to towers encompassing llll Park Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland.

Furthermore, the spent .45 caliber shell casing found on the scene of the homicide matched the shell casings recovered from within 1111 Park Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland. This is a secure apartment building with controlled access. Your affiant believes the suspect, Kaleab Berhanu, resides there in apartment 1509, with his girlfriend Nina O’Brien. Additionally, a larger caliber semi-automatic handgun was observed inside that apartment.

Based on the above stated facts and circumstances, your affiant has probable cause t’o believe that Kaleab Berhanu was involved in the homicide of Carlos Carter. Your affiant also has probable cause to believe that Kaleab Berhanu was involved in an attempted homicide of Malachi Valentin.

Your affiant requests an arrest warrant be issued for Kaleab Abebe Berhanu charging him with First Degree Murder (CR 2-201), Home Invasion (CR 6-202(b)) and Firearm Use in the Commission of a Felony (CR 4-204 (b)) and Attempted First Degree Murder (CR-2-205).

The above stated crimes occurred in Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland.”

Carlos Carter

 

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