From the US Attorney’s Office:
Four Men Found Guilty of Felony Charges, Two Others Plead Guilty in Crew Rivalry Case-Crimes Include Multiple Shootings, Homicides -
WASHINGTON – A jury has convicted several men of charges stemming from a violent rivalry between two street crews in Southeast Washington that led to a series of shootings, and two murders, in the spring of 2010, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), announced today.
The verdicts were returned following a two-month trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Four men were convicted of various felony charges by the jury, and two others pled guilty during the trial itself. The jury concluded its deliberations on July 23, 2012, when the final verdicts were read. All of the men are awaiting sentencing before the Honorable Senior Judge Henry F. Greene, who presided at the trial.
The case centered on a series of shootings that occurred in the Benning Terrace neighborhood, also known as “Simple City.” The dispute involved individuals from the “Avenue,” an area in Benning Terrace west of 46th Street SE, and individuals from the “Circle,” a cul-de-sac in the 600 Block of 46th Place SE. Both crews dealt narcotics, possessed firearms, and sought to evade law enforcement.
Those convicted were identified as members of the Circle crew. The jury returned guilty verdicts against Antonio Fortson, 21; Lamonte Henson, 20, Marcellus McCray, 18, and Timothy Parker, 34. Kurtis Faison, 20, and Lamont Thomas, 21, pled guilty to charges during the trial. Except for Henson, who is from Upper Marlboro, Md., all of the defendants are from Washington, D.C.
According to the government’s evidence, on April 10, 2010, Faison shot and killed Melvin White, 27, in the Circle, believing that Mr. White may have been assisting the Avenue crew. In April or early May 2010, Fortson and Thomas observed other individuals they associated with the Avenue crew in their territory, and fired multiple gunshots at them.
Further retaliatory shootings followed. On May 30, 2010, McCray and others armed themselves, went to the Avenue, and shot at individuals. Several minutes later, several Avenue crew members ran into the Circle firing their weapons. The Avenue members encountered multiple Circle crew members who fired at them, including Parker, who was firing on the west side of the circle toward a hill located between two buildings. Fortson and Henson were shooting from the east side of the circle both north and across to the hill. McCray and other charged individuals were shooting from the southeast portion of the circle across to the hill as well. During the shooting, a bystander from the Circle, Antwan Buckner, 32, was shot and killed. Even after that shooting, the Circle crew members continued to arm themselves.
“This case demonstrates the utter foolishness of the gang violence that terrorizes our neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Violence begets violence, leaving our young people dead or in jail. These convictions are the first in our efforts to hold accountable everyone responsible for the deadly gunplay that ripped apart Benning Terrace in 2010.”
“These defendants fired shots indiscriminately at their rivals without regard for innocent bystanders,” said Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. “They terrorized their own neighborhood.”
During the trial, Faison pled guilty to second-degree murder while armed for the death of Melvin White, conspiracy to commit murder, and obstruction of justice, among other offenses.
At the end of the government’s presentation of evidence, Thomas pled guilty to charges of assault with intent to kill and conspiracy to commit murder.
The jury returned a partial verdict on July 17, 2012 and concluded its deliberations and returned the final verdicts on July 23, 2012.
Fortson was found guilty of manslaughter while armed in the killing of Mr. Buckner, assault with a dangerous weapon, and other gun related offenses. McCray was found guilty of assault with intent to kill while armed, manslaughter while armed for acts committed during the fatal shooting of Mr. Buckner, and other gun-related offenses. Parker was found guilty of manslaughter while armed in the killing of Mr. Buckner, felon in possession of a firearm, and other gun-related offenses. Henson was found guilty of possession of a handgun sometime after the May 30, 2010 murder.
Other Circle crew members have been charged in the conspiracy and murder of Antwan Buckner and are set for trial in November 2012. Other Avenue crew members have been charged in a separate conspiracy and the same murder and are set for trial in February 2013.
Thomas will be sentenced on Sept. 12, 2012. Henson is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 23, 2012. McCray is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 24, 2012. Parker is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 25, 2012, and Fortson is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 31, 2012.
In announcing the verdicts, U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier praised those who worked on the case from the MPD and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Cannon, who provided substantial assistance during the trial; Paralegals Fern Rhedrick and Sharon Newman; Thomas Royal of Litigation Technology Support; the entire staff of the Victim Witness Unit; witness advocate Marci Rinker; and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeff Pearlman and Laura Bach, who investigated and prosecuted the case.