Deonte Bryant, 22, and Terrance Bush, 21, were each sentenced Thursday to over sixty years in prison for the 2011 Caribbean festival shooting that killed 43-year-old Robert Foster Jr. and injured two others.
Judge John Ramsey Johnson sentenced Bryant to 60 years and six months and Bush to 61 years and six months, for the Northwest D.C. shooting that happened on June 25, 2011 in a crowded place during broad daylight.
“Many people still remember the crime,” Johnson said. “My sentence takes into account everyone: the victims, the defendants and the city. If it was not for the guns nothing like this would have happened.”
Prosecutors linked the case to gang related “urban warfare”.
“The conduct in this case is the most frightening for a city,” Prosecutor Jennifer Kerkhoff said. “There were woman and children, all of them innocent, and the defendants created a zone of danger.”
A third man accused in the case, Terry Jimenez, pleaded guilty last April to second-degree murder. He has not yet been sentenced and is next due in court in September 2014.
Bryant and Bush were found guilty on all charges including first degree murder and assault with intent to kill in December 2013.
According to prosecutors Bryant and Bush attended the festival armed with the intent to shoot rival crew member Jimenez. When the three men engaged in a shootout, prosecutors said, Foster was a bystander and was caught in the crossfire.
Defense attorneys in the case claim that Bryant and Bush shot back at Jimenez in self-defense and blame Foster’s death on Jimenez, who they say initiated the confrontation.
“He did not wake up Saturday morning with the intent of hurting anybody. He made a mistake, but he acted in self defense,” said Bush’s attorney, Daniel Quillin.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office is below:
WASHINGTON – Deonte Bryant and Terrance Bush, both 22 and of Washington, D.C., were each sentenced today to more than 60 years in prison for first-degree murder while armed and other charges for shooting and killing a man and wounding two other people during a shoot-out at a street festival in Northwest Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
A jury found the men guilty in December 2013 of the murder charge, as well as three counts of assault with intent to kill while armed, one count of aggravated assault while armed, and related gun charges. The verdicts followed a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Bryant and Bush were sentenced by the Honorable John Ramsey Johnson. Bryant was sentenced to 60 and ½ years in prison and Bush was sentenced to 61 and ½ years in prison.
According to the government’s evidence, in the late afternoon of June 25, 2011, Bryant and Bush provoked and then participated in a shootout with a member of a rival neighborhood group, striking and injuring the rival, as well as three innocent bystanders who were hit by gunfire as they tried to run away. The shooting took place in broad daylight, during the Caribbean Festival, in the area of the 700 block of Gresham Place NW.
In total, Bryant and Bush fired about a dozen shots into the crowd. One of the innocent bystanders, Robert Foster, Jr., 43, was killed. Another innocent bystander was gravely wounded but survived. The third innocent bystander was shot in the leg and the side but also survived.
The rival, Terry Jimenez, 22, earlier pled guilty to charges in the case. He is awaiting sentencing.
“These murderers unloaded a dozen shots on a crowd of people enjoying a summer afternoon at the Caribbean Festival,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Their stunning indifference to human life was responsible for the death of an innocent bystander and serious injuries to two others. These lengthy prison sentences demonstrate our commitment to ending the pointless neighborhood feuds that incite violence and put innocent citizens at risk.”
“This festival was supposed to be a day of celebration, but an innocent bystander was killed and others were injured as a result of gunfire between rivals,” said Chief Lanier. “Hopefully, the sentencing today will provide a sense of closure to the family of the deceased victim and the surviving victims who were impacted by this senseless violence.”
In announcing the sentences, U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier praised the work of those who worked on the case from the MPD. They also expressed appreciation to those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Kelly Blakeney and Mia Beamon; Victim/Witness Advocate Meshall Thomas, and Litigation Technology Specialists Leif Hickling and Anisha Bhatia.
Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Kerkhoff and Kate Rakoczy, who tried the case, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Snyder and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Hegyi, who indicted the case.