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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: John S. Williams

Cops: Man left crack cocaine in patrol car

A Spokane gang member accused of helping a murder suspect now faces federal drug charges for 38 grams of crack cocaine found in a patrol car after his arrest.

A confidential informant arranged a drug buy with Christopher “Baby Boy” Route, 24, at a convenience store near East Illinois Avenue and North Perry Street on March 22 that led to his arrest, according to an affidavit by FBI Task Force Officer Jeff Barrington that was filed in U.S. District Court on Monday.

Investigators followed Route to an address in the 2500 block of North Hogan, then arrested him after he left in a car and drove northbound on Perry Street.
 
Police found $1,500 and two cellphones on him. They also found a large baggie containing 14 smaller baggies of crack under the front passenger seat of the patrol car after Route was booked into jail.
 
Route had felony warrants in Spokane County Superior Court, including one for criminal assistance for allegedly lying to detectives about what he knew regarding the murder of John S. Williams in January 2010.

According to court documents, Route and other reputed gang members attended a birthday party at Casey's Restaurant and Lounge before taking a limousine to an after party at 5405 N. Crestline St.

Route, who was charged with assault in connection with a gang murder in 2005, told police he stayed at the party for only about 30 minutes and left when a fight broke out. 

 Route said he didn't know anything about the shooting, but detectives say he was present when Williams punched out a car window, then was shot to death, allegedly by Edward “TD” Thomas.

Gang murder suspect jailed in Spokane

A gang member arrested near Compton for the January shooting death of a rival is back in Spokane.

Edward L. “TD” Thomas, 25, will remain incarcerated on a probation hold and $600,000 bond after appearing in Superior Court today via video from the Spokane County Jail, where he was booked just after 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Thomas, wearing a dark blue jail jumpsuit, appeared stoic in court, replying “Yes, your honor,” to each of Judge Annette Plese’s procedural questions. Described by police as a member of a Compton, Calif.,-based gang, Thomas was arrested Sept. 9 in Los Angeles on Spokane County warrants charging him with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. He’s also charged with bail jumping for an unrelated robbery case and with escape from community custody.

Thomas stopped checking in with his probation officer around the time of the Jan. 17 shooting death of John S. Williams, 38.

Police say Thomas shot Williams in the face outside a birthday party for a reputed gang member at 5405 N. Crestline Street. He’s also accused of trying to kill Williams’ son during the shooting.

Police believe the shooting resulted from lingering tensions between Thomas and a rival gang member who has a child with the mother of Thomas’ child. The rival, who reportedly belonged to the same gang as Williams, was with Williams’ son when he pulled a gun on Thomas a couple weeks before the party, and Thomas felt he needed to retaliate, police said.

One witness told police there was a feud brewing between older Spokane gang members like Williams and younger members like Thomas.

Six other men were charged in connection with the homicide. Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton, 23, sentenced to five years in prison this month for driving Thomas from the murder.

Past coverage:

June 3: Seven charged in January gang murder

Burton: ‘I know I didn’t murder this man’

Six days after tanking a plea deal by professing his innocence, a Spokane man who drove the suspected gunman from a murder in January pleaded guilty to four felonies but maintained he played no role in the gang-related slaying.

“In my heart, I know I didn’t murder this man or help murder this man,” said Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton.

Burton, 23, said he knew the victim, John S. Williams, “personally.”

“He was a nice guy to me, too. He was real cool,” Burton said. “…I do feel sorry for him.”

He lamented the lifestyle that leads to shooting deaths like Williams’.

“I’m from Cali. I see it constantly, everyday,” Burton said.

He said he felt Williams’ family’s pain because people close to him have been murdered, too. He mentioned his cousin, Aaron Bascomb, who was shot to death in Los Angeles in April.

“I know the severity of what you have to deal with this,” Burton said to the members of Williams’ family who sat in the courtroom. “I’ve lost so many people I grew up with…We go through it constantly down there.” 

Superior Court Judge Annette Plese approved Burton’s plea deal, which sentenced him to 60 months in prison. He’ll serve the sentence the same time as a 63-month sentence for a second-degree assault conviction handed down by a jury last month.

He pleaded guilty today to harassment, bail jumping, and two counts of rendering criminal assistance. The deal reduced robbery and assault charges to rendering (Burton drove a man who robbed and assaulted a woman from the scene) and dropped an additional count of bail jumping. The harassment charge stemmed from text messages Burton sent to the mother of his 14-month-old daughter.

Burton said his child is his impetus for resolving his criminal charges quickly.

“Being deprived of your freedom, it teaches you a lot,” he said.

Burton has a previous assault conviction for a 2005 gang shooting in which Demetrius Route was convicted of murder and Deric D. Burton was convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault.

That conviction coupled with his assault conviction from last month makes two strikes for Cedric - one more and he’ll be sent to prison for the rest of his life. His public defender, Mark Hannibal, said Burton understands that.

“He is a young man,” Hannibal said. “He does have a few goals in his life; one is to continue his education.”

Burton said he trusts in God and said though he’s made a lot of mistakes, “Regardless of what’s on my record, I’ve never intentionally assaulted anyone or robbed anyone.”

“I was becoming a victim to the lifestyle I was getting myself into,” he said. “A second of freedom, a second with my daughter, it’s worth more than a lifetime of bondage.”

Burton acknowledged Williams’ supporters as he was taken from the courtroom back to jail.

“God bless you guys,” he said.

Williams’ mother, Cindy, said she appreciated Burton’s kind words about her son and said she isn’t sure Burton even knew who’d been killed when he drove the alleged shooter, Edward L. “TD” Thomas, from the party at 5405 N. Crestline Jan. 17.

Thomas, who was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles, is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder for John Williams’ slaying and the attempted slaying of his son. Police say Thomas had a gun pointed at him by a gang member associated with Williams and felt he needed to retaliate.

Past coverage:

June 4: Seven face charges in shooting death

May 21: Lawyer: Fugitive was in Cali for cousin’s funeral

March 9: Homicide case not a ‘simple’ investigation

Gang murder suspect arrested in Compton

A Spokane gang member accused of shooting to death a rival outside a party in January was arrested today in Compton, Calif., police announced tonight.

 Edward L. “TD” Thomas, 25, wanted since June for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, was captured by the fugitive squad of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Compton station, according to a news release by Matt Rose of the Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement Team.

Spokane police detectives have been in close contact with Southern California law enforcement regarding the Jan. 17 murder of John S. Williams, 38, because “many of the suspects were known to have ties to the South Central Los Angeles area,” Rose said.

Police say Thomas shot Williams in the face outside a birthday party for a reputed gang member at 5405 N. Crestline Street. He’s also accused of trying to kill Williams’ son during the shooting.

Police believe the shooting resulted from lingering tensions between Thomas and a rival gang member who has a child with the mother of Thomas’ child. The rival, who reportedly belonged to the same gang as Williams, had pulled a gun on Thomas a couple weeks before the party, and Thomas felt he needed to retaliate, police said.

One witness told police there was a feud brewing between older Spokane gang members like Williams and younger members like Thomas.

Six men are accused of helping Thomas avoid arrest or of lying to police to cover up the murder. Five - Eric “Smalls” Burton, Jr., 25; Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton, 23; John E. Burton, 27; James Henderson, 33; Christopher J. “Baby Boy” Route, 24 - have been arrested. Only Marc A. “Bookie” Carter remains at large.

Police say most of the men are cousins; Cedric and John Burton are half-brothers.

Route, Thomas, Cedric Burton and Eric Burton were convicted of felony assault or riot for a January 2005 gang murder outside Crazy 8’s bar. Demetrius Route was convicted of that murder and remains in prison. Deric D. Burton was convicted of two counts of second-degree assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault. He also remains in prison.

Past coverage:

June 4: Seven face charges in shooting death

March 9: Homicide case not a ‘simple’ investigation

Plea deal halted after suspect complains

A Spokane gang member set to plead guilty today to several felonies changed his mind at the last minute and is now set for trial.

Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton (right), accused of helping a murder suspect avoid arrest, told Judge Tari Eitzen that he was going to plead guilty because “I don’t want to jeopardize any more time,” but then insisted “I’m not guilty of any of these allegations at all, and I know I can beat 90 percent of these allegations.” 

Eitzen questioned him repeatedly about his intention and asked if he wanted to plead guilty because he was worried about what would happen if he went to trial (the basis for an Alford plea.)

Burton, 23, said he wasn’t worried about a trial.

“I don’t think I can be found guilty,” Burton said. “I know I’m not guilty of any of these crimes.”

Burton was to plead guilty to harassment, bail jumping and two counts of rending criminal assistance, one in connection to the Jan. 17 murder of John S. WIlliams.

The deal would have dropped first-degree robbery and second-degree assault charges, as well as an additional bail jumping charge.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla was to recommend Burton receive 5 years in prison, which he would serve concurrently with a 63-month sentence imposed last month after a jury convicted him of second-degree assault. The charges stemmed from Burton skipping a court hearing, threatening to kill the mother of his child, helping a man who robbed and assaulted a woman escape the home, and for helping murder suspect Edward L. “TD” Thomas after Thomas (left) allegedly shot Williams to death in January.

Burton said Cipolla’s version of the events was wrong and said he missed court because he had a flat tire.

“My speedy trial rights have been violated…just a lot of things,” Burton said. “I don’t feel I have been treated fairly.” Burton said he had a 15-month-old daughter and was “already off the scale with all these strikes, you know what I mean?”

Etizen replied that she didn’t.

“It really truly doesn’t matter to me,” Eitzen said. “We can halt this process and you can go to trial.”

The judge did just that, sending the case to Judge Michael Price to be assigned a trial date.

Burton was taken back to the Spokane County Jail, where he’s been since early May after being arrested in Los Angeles. He said he’d left the state to attend his cousin’s funeral.

Burton is among six men facing charges for the Jan. 17 fatal shooting outside 5405 N. Crestline. His cousin, 33-year-old James C. Henderson, pleaded guilty to riot on Friday and was credited for 102 days served in jail.

Thomas, the alleged triggerman, still is at large. Anyone with tips on his location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online.

Suspects in gang murder headed to prison

Two cousins charged in a gang-related mucrder are headed to prison on unrelated convictions.

Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton, 23, was sentenced to 63 months in prison on Friday for second-degree assault.

Eric “Smalls” Burton, Jr., 25, also was sentenced recently to 20 months in prison for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.

Cedric Burton had been charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder for trying to run over two men in a downtown Spokane parking lot in November, but a jury convicted him of only assault, which is his second strike. A co-defendant, Charles Willy Jackson, is charged with second-degree assault, third-degree malicious mischief and possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) after police say he shot out the back window of the men’s Hummer. His trial is set for September.

Eric Burton received the low-end of the standard sentence for his crack cocaine conviction, which stemmed from him having 26 baggies of the drug when Spokane police stopped him last summer.

Authorities have said he may face federal charges for allegedly possessing the gun used to kill John S. Williams on Jan. 17.

Both cousins have convictions related a 2005 gang murder, and both still are charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance in connection with Williams’ murder in January.

The accused triggerman, Edward “TD” Thomas, still is at large.

Past coverage:

June 3: Seven charged in January gang murder

May 21: Lawyer: Fugitive was in Cali for cousin’s funeral

May 3: Warrant issued for accused would-be killer

2 plead innocent to murder-related charges

Two men pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges related to a fatal gang-related shooting in January.

James C. Henderson, 33, is charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance and conspiracy to commit second-degree assault, though his public defender, John Stine, said the case is “pretty thin.”

Henderson “was no where near this crime when it occurred, he’s not involved in it in anyway,” Stine said. “Mr. Henderson was at home - he actually has several police officers as alibi witnesses.”

Henderson is named as a co-conspirator with alleged triggerman Edward “TD” Thomas, (left) who is a fugitive wanted on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder for a Jan. 17 shooting that killed John S. Williams.

Stine asked for hHenderson’s bond to be reduced to at the most $5,000, but Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza noted Henderson’s bail jumping conviction and kept it at $100,000.

Also arraigned Wednesday was Henderson’s cousin, Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton, (right)who pleaded not guilty to first-degree rendering criminal assistance. His bond remains at $100,000.

He’s also charged with attempted murder and bail jumping for an alleged incident in a nightclub parking lot last fall.

Henderson and Burton join Christopher J. “Baby Boy” Route, 24, as the only incarcerated suspects charged in the murder.

Their cousin, Eric “Smalls” Burton, Jr., pleaded not guilty to first-degree rendering criminal assistance last month and is out on bail.

Accused killer Thomas still is at large, as are Cedric Burton’s brother and Route’s cousin, John E. Burton, 27; and Marc A. “Bookie” Carter, who are accused of first-degree rending criminal assistance.

Anyone with information on the three is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don’t have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Past coverage:

June 24: Witness in gang murder agrees to secret deal

June 3: Seven charged in January gang murder

March 9: Homicide case ‘not a simple investigation’

Suspects in gang murder: 1 jailed, 3 to go

A man charged in connection with a fatal shooting in January was arrested on Sunday.

Christopher J. “Baby Boy” Route, 24, (left) is in jail on a probation hold and a felony charge of first-degree rendering criminal assistance after being booked into jail about noon.

He's accused of helping cover up the gang-related murder of John S. Williams on Jan. 17.

According to court documents, Route and other reputed gang members attended a birthday party at Casey's Restaurant and Lounge before taking a limousine to an after party at 5405 N. Crestline.

Route, who was charged with assault in connection with a gang murder in 2005, told police he stayed at the party for only about 30 minutes and left when a fight broke out. 

 Route said he didn't know anything about the shooting, but detectives say he was present when Williams punched out a car window, then was shot to death, allegedly by Edward “TD” Thomas (right).

Thomas then put the murder weapon, a Ruger mini 30, in a rental car driven by Eric “Smalls” Burton, according to court documents.

Burton's cousins, Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton and James C. Henderson, 33, on rendering criminal assistance charges. 

Thomas still is a fugitive wanted on first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder charge. Wanted on rendering criminal assistance charges are Route's cousin (and Cedric Burton's brother), John E. Burton, 27 (no picture available); and Marc A. “Bookie” Carter (left).

Anyone with information on the three is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters don't have to leave their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Past coverage: June 3: Seven charged in January gang murder

Witness in gang murder agrees to secret deal

A witness in a gang-related murder pleaded guilty to two charges this morning in a sealed agreement with prosecutors.

Antonio E. Cook, Jr., 28, (left) will remain in jail pending sentencing, which was not immediately scheduled.

The deal drops several charges, including robbery, gun and drug possession, but those charges can be refiled if Cook doesn’t comply with the deal, Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla said in court.

Cook waived his right to a speedy sentencing; his public defender said it won’t happen for at least 40 days. Details of his sentencing recommendation have not been made public.

Cook first answered “no” when Superior Court Judge Neal Rielly asked if he was making the plea freely and voluntarily but then said otherwise.

“I wanna take advantage of what’s going on right now and get it over with,” Cook said.

Rielly questioned Cook repeatedly, saying “whether you like the system or respect the system” he wouldn’t accept the plea if Cook was being pressured. Cook pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness and third-degree assault.

He was arrested in February after police found his fingerprints on the stolen gun used to kill John S. Williams on Jan. 17, though he isn’t believed to have been present when Williams was killed. Cook later threatened a teen who was cooperating with police, leading to the tampering conviction. 

Cook’s assault charge was for an unrelated incident in September when Cook punched a woman after she fought with him and a friend over a sexually suggestive text message the friend had sent her, according to court documents. The woman’s boyfriend saw the messages, documents say.

Court documents show Cook is a key witness in the case against several reputed gang members charged in Williams’ death.

Police say he told them that accused triggerman Edward “TD” Thomas (right) admitted to shooting Williams six or seven times before firing a single round into his face at close range.

Thomas is a fugitive wanted for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Past coverage:

June 3: Seven charged in January gang murder

March 9: Homicide case ‘not a simple investigation’

Suspect in murder admits to crack charge

A Spokane man accused of lying to police his knowledge of a fatal shooting in January faces at least 20 months in prison for a crack cocaine conviction when he’s sentenced later this summer.

Eric “Smalls” Burton, Jr., recently pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. He’s to be sentenced Aug. 9. 

Burton had 26 baggies of crack cocaine when Spokane police stopped him last August. The officers knew Burton had a Department of Corrections warrant for his arrest, said Burton’s lawyer, Chris Phelps.

Phelps said the arrest was “ripe for pretrial suppression” because of issues with the police search, but “we have voluntarily declined to pursue those.” Phelps said the case had been sent to federal prosecutors, but they declined to pursue it unless Burton didn’t plead guilty as charged.

Burton’s standard sentencing range calls for 20 to 60 months; Deputy Prosecutor Eugene Cruz said last week he’ll recommending the low end.

Burton also is charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance for allegedly lying to police about what he knew about the murder of John S. Williams on Jan. 17.

Burton was arrested the day of the murder after police found the Ruger mini-rifle used to kill Williams in a rental car Burton drove to the scene, but the first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm charge was dismissed in April because Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla said “there is insufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution of this case until further investigation,” according to court documents.

The new rendering criminal assistance charge was filed against Burton early this month. He was arrested June 2 and posted $50,000 bail the next day.

His cousins, Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton and James C. Henderson, remain in jail on charges connected to the murder.

The accused triggerman, Edward “TD” Thomas, remains a fugitive, as do Marc A. “Bookie” Carter, John E. Burton, 27, and Christopher J. Route, 23.

Past coverage: June 3: Seven charged in January gang murder

Murder charges filed in gang slaying

Seven people have been charged in connection to a Jan. 17 gang-related slaying in Hillyard.

Edward L. “TD” Thomas (right) is wanted on charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder after police say he shot John S. Williams in the face with a Ruger mini 30 rifle and fired shots at another man.

Wanted on conspiracy and rendering criminal assistance charges are Marc A. “Bookie” Carter, John E. Burton, 27; and Christopher J. Route, 23.

Already in jail on the charges are cousins Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton, 23; Eric “Smalls” Burton, Jr., 25; James C. Henderson, 33. The three appeared in District Court today via video feed from the jail today.

Cedric Burton has been in jail since early May, when detectives arrested him in Los Angeles. His public defender said he had traveled south to attend the funeral of his cousin, Aaron D. Bascomb, a Long Beach 22-year-old who was shot and killed in Inglewood, Calif. April 9.

Lingering hostility between two gangsters who have a child with the same woman may have been what sparked the most recent fatal shooting.

Read my full story on the murder investigation here.

Pictured above, from left to right, first row: Thomas, Carter and Route. Second row: Cedric Burton, Eric Burton and Antonio Cook, who is charged with illegally posessing the murder weapon. Pictures of John Burton and James Henderson were not available.

Past coverage:

March 9: Homicide case ‘not a simple investigation’

Another arrested in gang-related homicide

Another man has been arrested in connection with an unsolved gang-related shooting in January.

Justin A. Battle, 29, is accused of possessing the stolen Ruger mini rifle police think was used to kill 38-year-old John S. Williams in an alley behind 5405 N. Crestline on Jan. 17. He was arrested after detectives searched his apartment at 1839 E. Marshall Ave. last week on suspicion that he was selling marijuana.

Police found crack cocaine and marijuana, along with a bullet and a firearm part that belonged to the mini rifle, which was stolen in a burglary in Chattaroy on Jan. 4, according to court documents. Battle is accused of helping a defendant in that burglary sell the mini rifle.

Battle, who was convicted of second-degree burglary in 1998, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court March 18 on charges of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and trafficking in stolen property. He’s out on $10,000 bond.

Three other men, Eric Burton, Jr., Antonio Cook, Jr., and Elexander R. Burgess have already been charged with possessing the mini rifle, which police found in a car rented by Burton. Burton and other reputed gang members were attending a birthday party at the Crestline apartment complex when Williams was killed.

Williams’ mother, Cindy Williams, said she believes the killer was after her grandson, John Williams’ 21-year-old son.

Past coverage:

‘Not a simple investigation’

Police find gun used in slaying

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