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I see that a federal judge has banned prosecutors from using terminology like “Hells Angels,” “Mongols” and “gangs” in the upcoming Ricky Jenks trial. Thank God. Nobody wants to see our sacred judicial process tainted by reality. As anyone who has studied the law or Judge Joe Brown episodes would know, nothing can be more unfair and prejudicial than reality in a courtroom. How do you think jurors would react at hearing that Jenks is the sergeant-at-arms for the Washington state chapter of that notorious biker gang, the Hells Angels? They could be highly prejudiced, that’s what/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: Was the judge being too cautious in handing down his order that prosecutors couldn't mentin “Hells Angels,” “Mongols,” or gangs in the trial of a Hells Angel sergeant-at-arms?
By TOM HAYS, ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK (AP) — A combative, fashion-conscious mobster already serving a life prison term dodged a death sentence on Wednesday for ordering a gangland hit while taking control of a once-fearsome crime family.
An anonymous jury deliberated less than two hours before rejecting the government's longshot bid to have Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano (pictured) put to death and giving him another life sentence at the penalty phase of his trial in federal court in Brooklyn.
The jury had previously found the former acting boss of the Bonanno crime family guilty last month of murder, racketeering, conspiracy and other charges. Prosecutors said he had orchestrated the killing of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo.
Basciano, 51, cracked a slight smile and nodded at the jurors as they exited the courtroom.
Moments later, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis told defense lawyers they could meet privately with the jury and Basciano eagerly asked if he could tag along. The judge's blunt response: “There's not a chance in the world of that.”
Prosecutors used the unprecedented testimony of former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino to try to portray Basciano as a stone-cold killer who deserved death. Massino — the highest-ranking member of the city's five long-standing Mafia families to ever take the witness stand for the government — recounted a conversation about the possibility of knocking off an assistant U.S. attorney while the prosecutor dined at his favorite Manhattan eatery to avenge an onslaught of criminal cases brought against the family leadership.
“Let me kill this guy when he comes out of the restaurant,” Basciano said, according to Massino, who by mob rules had to sign off on the killing.
The prosecutor, Greg Andres, had “pretty much destroyed the Bonanno family,” Massino testified.
The government also sought to convince jurors that life behind bars wouldn't prevent Basciano from trying to use visitors to sneak orders to his underworld crew — a tactic he'd used in the past.
“Even with a life sentence, he will not be stopped,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Argentieri said in closing arguments. “His mind will always be in the street. … The defendant has earned the ultimate punishment.”
Defense attorney Richard Jasper argued the former owner of the Hello Gorgeous hair salon would pose no threat if imprisoned with other notorious gangsters and terrorists in the fortress-like lockup in Florence, Colo., “the biggest, baddest house in the federal system,” where “everybody is in lockdown.”
He urged jurors to follow their consciences and “suspend the work of death until Vincent Basciano dies in a federal prison by himself — in God's time, not man's.”
The jury indicated on their verdict sheet that it didn't buy prosecutors' argument that Basciano posed a future threat. Ten of the 12 jurors wrote their decision also was based on the fact that other mobsters who “have admitted to an equal or greater number of serious crimes … are not facing the death penalty.”
Throughout the capital case, Basciano was a colorful presence in the courtroom. He had won Garaufis' approval to wear a wardrobe of five different suits — one for each day of the week — and always kept his full head of gray hair carefully coiffed.
He also gave regular pointers to his lawyers and even sparred with the judge at length over whether he could introduce new evidence while testifying on his own behalf.
“I can't properly defend myself,” he complained in one rant before deciding not to take the stand.
Last year, the judge asked the Department of Justice to reconsider bringing a death penalty case — which at the time had already cost taxpayers more than $3 million — against a defendant who was already serving life without parole for a 2007 conviction. The U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn also was defying modern history: There's been only one federal defendant — convicted police killer Ronell Wilson — sentenced to death in the city since 1954, and that decision was overturned on appeal.
But prosecutors decided to press ahead anyway and showcase the straight-talking Massino at the guilt and penalty phases of the trial.
Massino, 68, broke his family's sacred vow of silence and began talking with investigators after his 2004 conviction for orchestrating a quarter-century's worth of murder, racketeering and other crimes as he rose through the ranks of the Bonannos. The bloodshed included the shotgun slayings of three rival captains and the execution of a mobster who vouched for FBI undercover agent Donnie Brasco in the 1980s. Brasco's story became a movie starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino.
While imprisoned together in 2005, the former Bonanno boss agreed to wear a wire and betray Basciano by recording their jailhouse banter.
Jurors heard one recording of Basciano boasting, “I'm a hoodlum. I'm a tough guy. Whatever happens happens. Let's go.” In another, a wistful Massino mused about the demise of the family.
“We was OK until I got pinched,” he said. “We was on top of the world.”
Prosecutors are prohibited from referencing the terms “Hells Angels,” “Mongols” and “gangs” in the upcoming trial of club Sergeant at Arms Ricky Jenks.
U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush said federal prosecutors can refer to Jenks' membership in a “motorcycle club” only. He said the other references “would be unfairly prejudicial and generate 'more heat than light.'” Those orders were reiterated in pretrial documents filed last week.
Jenks' trial, originally set to begin Tuesday, is now scheduled to begin July 11 at 9 a.m. He faces 10 years in prison if convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
He has been in jail since his arrest March 3 during a raid at the Hells Angels Spokane clubhouse on East Sprague Avenue.
The raid came as tensions between the Hells Angels and Mongols were rumored to be heating up.
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.
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.
LOS ANGELES — The process was routine. Los Angeles County Sheriff's homicide investigator Kevin Lloyd was flipping through snapshots of tattooed gang members.
Then one caught his attention.
Inked on the pudgy chest of a young Pico Rivera gangster who had been picked up and released on a minor offense was the scene of a 2004 liquor store slaying that had stumped Lloyd for more than four years.
Each key detail was right there: the Christmas lights that lined the roof of the liquor store where 23-year-old John Juarez was gunned down, the direction his body fell, the bowed street lamp across the way and the street sign — all under the chilling banner of RIVERA KILLS, a reference to the gang Rivera-13.
As if to seal the deal, below the collarbone of the gang member known by the alias “Chopper” was a miniature helicopter raining down bullets on the scene.
A teenager involved in a shooting at Hoopfest last summer will stand trial this week for an unrelated stabbing outside Club Uno in 2009.
Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Adam Doe, 19, who is charged with first-degree assault for an October 2009 stabbing that injured two men. Opening statements are expected Wednesday morning.
Doe had a tentative plea deal in the case until his arrest in the June 28 Hoopfest shooting. He pleaded guilty in February to second-degree assault and third-degree assault in connection with the shooting. Gunman Miguel C. Garcia, 20, also pleaded guilty that month to three felonies and is expected to receive nine years in prison.
At the time of the shooting, Doe was supposed to be on house arrest after his release from jail on the Club Uno stabbing charge.
The main suspect in the stabbing, John Proctor, was acquitted of all charges after a jury trial last October. Proctor was near the scene of the wild fight but said he did not participate and was falsely accused; the jury quickly acquitted him.
Doe is on trial before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza. Steve Garvin is prosecuting; Dennis Dressler is representing Doe.
The Oct. 28, 2009, stabbing injured Kenneth R. Budik and Charles L. Lucious. Witnesses said one of defendants said, “There’s Kenny! Murder One Crips!” and “You messed with Murder One,” before the attack, according to court documents. Budik was a victim in a shooting in 2007 that killed gang member Adama Walton.
Also charged in the stabbing were brothers Rashjel G. “Reggie” Cage and Rakee D. Cage, who pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault. Parrish J. Johnson pleaded guilty to riot; William Alexander-Durr’s charge was dismissed.
A Hells Angels member arrested on a marijuana charge Thursday in Spokane was released from jail on his own recognizance Friday.
Michael Ryan Fitzpatrick, 33, was booked into jail Thursday on one felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance after selling marijuana in a “controlled drug buy” set up by the Spokane Regional Drug Task Force last fall, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The one-paragraph affidavit, signed Thursday by Jeff Barrington, alleges the transaction occurred in October.
Superior Court Judge Michael Price allowed Fitzpatrick to leave jail Friday without posting bail, which pre-trial services recommended and is common in marijuana cases. Fitzpatrick has three felony convictions from several years ago, Price said.
The affidavit contains no information about Fitzpatrick's arrest, which occurred Thursday after federal agents and Spokane police searched the Hells Angels clubhouse at 1308 E. Sprague Ave. Fitzpatrick was not at the club at the time but was arrested at a different location.
Also arrested was Hells Angels sergeant of arms Ricky W. Jenks, 33.
Jenks remains in jail without bail on a federal charge of felon in possession of a firearm. Investigators say they found six loaded firearms in the clubhouse.
Jenks was among those indicted in 2006 with now imprisoned chapter president Richard “Smilin’ Rick” Fabel (pictured).
A Canadian gangster who authorities say is responsible for major drug distributions in Eastern Washington faces eight years in prison under a plea agreement signed recently in Spokane.
Joseph P. Curry, an associate of imprisoned B.C. drug lord Clay Roueche, pleaded guilty Thursday to importation of Ecstasy, which carries a maximum 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors and Curry's lawyer, Chris Phelps, have agreed to recommend a 102-month sentence and three years probation at his sentencing May 5.
According to the plea agreement filed Thursday, Curry made an emergency landing in a small Cessna plane about 35 miles from the Canadian border in Okanogan County on Aug. 10, 2007.
Federal agents found three duffel bags containing 30 kilograms of Ecstasy nearby. Curry's lawyer called authorities on Aug. 13, 2007, and asked for the plane back, saying his client had experienced engine problems and bad weather. A grand jury indicted Curry the next month.
Curry was named as as a suspect in the Operation Blade Runner federal drug bust that included arrests in Eastern Washington and North Idaho and led to the suicide of young helicopter pilot Samuel Lindsay-Brown int he Spokane County Jail.
After Lindsay-Brown's suicide, another young Canadian man was arrested near Priest Lake with a helicopter filled with marijuana. The helicopter belonged to a friend of Curry's, and authorities believe Curry helped load the aircraft in Canada, according to court documents.
Curry is an associate of the United Nations gang in Vancouver, B.C.
Roueche, the gang leader, was sentenced to 30 years in prison last December. Prosecutors said he ran a drug ring that used a network of helicopters, planes, semi-trucks and other methods to move tons of marijuana and cocaine and millions of dollars through Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Curry and Roueche were photographed together (see left) at the funeral of a UN gang member who was killed in a drug-related shooting in Canada, according to federal court documents.
Federal agents believe a smaller drug ring was headed by four Canadian men, one of whom offered to cooperate if investigators let him continue his operation for a decade.
The Hoopfest gunman who opened fire on rival gang members last year, injuring three bystanders in the downtown Spokane crowd, pleaded guilty today to assault charges.
Miguel C. Garcia, 19, was originally charged with 10 counts of attempted first-degree murder but instead pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm.
He’s expected to serve nearly nine years in prison but sentencing was delayed until April 12.
Because he used a gun in the commission of the assaults, six years of the agreed upon 105-month sentence would be served as part of a weapon enhancement.
A Spokane man upset that a club bouncer approached his girlfriend sprayed the man's home with bullets in a recent drive-by shooting, police say.
Derek L. Wilson, 24, (pictured above, in 2007) appeared in Superior Court Monday via video from the jail, where he is charged with seven counts of first-degree assault and seven counts of drive-by shooting for Feb. 3 gunfire at a home at 2812 E. Hoffman Ave. in Hillyard.
No one was injured in the shooting, which resident John Seyler, a bouncer at Raw, 723 W. 1st Ave., told police occurred hours after he'd approached a woman he'd frequently kicked out of bars for being underage.
The woman, later identified as Kassandra Darby, just recently turned 21 and was allowed to stay at the bar, but her boyfriend, later identified as Wilson, was angry with Seyler for approaching her, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Seyler said he saw the two in a black Audi at a convenience store at Market and Wellesley later that morning and noticed them watching him. They followed him to the residence on Hoffman; shots were fired about five minutes later. Bullets entered the home, where Seyler, three other adults and two children were staying.
Darby told police she'd been “manhandled” by a bouncer but denied knowing anything about a shooting.
Police found a .380 caliber handgun believed to have been used in the shooting at Wilson's ex-girlfriend's apartment at 4223 N. Progress Road and located a .380 caliber unfired bullet in Wilson's Audi. Wilson was arrested for driving while suspended on Feb. 4 and has been in jail since. Prosecutors filed the 14 felony charges on Friday.
Wilson is considered a gang associate by police.
He has previous convictions for second-degree robbery in 2005 and for second-degree assault in 2007 after a shooting at the skate park under Interstate 90 in downtown Spokane.
The picture above is from that arrest.
A teenager involved in a shooting at Hoopfest last summer was credited for time already served in jail after pleading guilty to two felony assault charges this week.
Adam Doe, 19, remains in jail pending the resolution of riot and assault charges related to an October 2009 stabbing outside Club Uno in downtown Spokane. Trial is set for March.
Doe pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree assault and third-degree assault related to the June 28 shooting at Hoopfest that hit three bystanders. Police say the shooting occured when the men approached rival gang members.
The accused gunman, Miguel C. Garcia, remains in jail on several assault charges. Spokane police say Garcia passed the gun to Doe after the shooting, and Doe fought with an officer trying to detain him. Doe was on house arrest at the time after his release from jail on the Club Uno stabbing charges.
Another accomplice in the Hoopest shooting, Marquis Johnson, was given an exceptionally low sentence of six months after pleading guilty to second-degree assault last October.
A third suspect, Rashjel “Reggie” Cage, is to receive a light sentence for gun and riot convictions once he testifies at Garcia's trial.
All four men had originally been charged with about a dozen counts of attempted murder.
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Uniformed sheriffs, community activists and onetime gang members sporting facial tattoos were among a large crowd that assembled Wednesday to debate a legislative proposal aimed at restricting criminal gangs in Washington state.
The bill — proposed by Attorney General Rob McKenna and sponsored by Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches — aims to crack down on violent gang-related crime by allowing for broader injunctions on known gang activities and affiliations.
It directs legislators to request federal funding for intervention and prevention programs, expands law enforcement's ability to issue protection orders against gang members and close down housing where gang crime is known to occur. It also calls for sentence enhancements when certain felonies are committed.
“Today, the discussion is about your right to live in a private, safe community, versus your civil rights,” Ross said Wednesday. “I've worked hard … to keep an eye on how far we intrude in on someone's civil rights, while also maintaining your ability to live in an environment that is free and safe of gang violence.”
More than 60 witnesses from around Washington signed up to testify on both sides of the bill, packing into the small room and overflowing into the hallway.
While acknowledging the need to reduce gang activity, the opposition's concerns were many: Too much emphasis on suppression, instead of prevention and intervention; enormous potential for racial profiling and increased arrests of young offenders who could be reached through other methods.
Chris Hoke, a chaplain in the Skagit County Jail, has worked with gang members for the past six years and foresees a “blowback” from the bill's injunction provisions in the form of more offenders going to prison and becoming more militarized by associating with other gang member inmates.
“I see our money would be ultimately going to sending kids to 'gang university' and to come back a few years later, worse,” he said.
Several law enforcement officials came to speak in favor of the bill, lauding the provisions in Ross's proposal as new tools to help keep neighborhoods safe.
Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin and Yakima Police Sgt. Erik Hildebrand were among the law enforcement officials testifying in favor of the bill, saying it would provide as new tools to help keep neighborhoods safe. Irwin said his county already is finding success with its prevention and intervention measures, but must focus on crime-fighting first.
“We're in need of triage. We can't treat everything right now; we don't have the money to do all we need to do,” Irwin said.
Dan Sytman, a spokesman for McKenna, said the current bill reflects the need to accommodate state budget problems while still recognizing the demand for community outreach programs to reduce gang activity.
“There are lots of good programs around the state, right in the local communities. We want to support those programs,” he said.
A reputed Canadian gangster who authorities say is responsible for major drug distributions in Eastern Washington has arrived in Spokane to face three-year-old Ecstasy charges.
Joseph P. Curry, an associate of imprisoned B.C. drug lord Clay Roueche, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court Friday to importation of Ecstasy, possession of Ecstasy with intent to distribute and entry without inspection. He faces a maximum 20 years in federal prison and is being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail, where he was booked Thursday evening.
He was ordered extradited to the United States from Canada in February, according to the Vancouver Sun.
The case began on Aug. 10, 2007, when federal agents say Curry, 49, abandoned a small Cessna about 35 miles from the Canadian border in Okanogan County. Three duffel bags containing Ecstasy pills were found nearby; Curry has told investigators the drugs were not his and said he knew nothing about them, according to court documents.
Curry was named as a suspect in the 2009Operation Blade Runner international drug bust, which also included arrests in Eastern Washington and North Idaho and led to the suicide of young helicopter pilot Samuel Lindsay-Brown (left) in the Spokane County Jail.
About a week after Lindsay-Brown's death on Feb. 27, 2009, another young Canadian man, Jeremy Snow, was arrested near Priest Lake with a helicopter filled with marijuana. The helicopter belonged to a friend of Curry's, and authorities believe Curry helped load the helicopter in Canada, according to court documents.
Federal agents say Curry is an associate of the United Nations gang in Vancouver, B.C. Roueche, the gang leader, was sentenced to 30 years in prison last December. Prosecutors say the gang ran a drug ring that used a network of helicopters, planes, semi-trucks and other methods to move tons of marijuana and cocaine and millions of dollars through Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Curry and Roueche are pictured at right at the funeral of a UN gang member who was killed in a drug-related shooting in Canada. The photo was included in Roueche's case file.
Court documents prepared by investigators in August 2007 called Curry “a known suspect in multiple narcotics trafficking cases in Eastern District of Washington.”
In May 2006, a law enforcement helicopter spotted Curry's car meeting with a helicopter in a remote location in B.C. More than 100 kilograms of marijuana in duffel bags was transferred to the helicopter, which was intercepted by law enforcement at a remote location in Eastern Washington.
Authorities never identified the driver of the vehicle, but Curry's name came up about a year later when federal agents found the abandoned plane and nearby Ecstasy stash. The plane had a “for sale” sign that listed Curry's phone number.
Curry's lawyer called authorities on Aug. 13, 2007, and asked for the plane back, saying his client had experienced engine problems and bad weather.
A grand jury indicted Curry the next month. He was extradited to Western Washington before arriving in Spokane last week, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice.
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.
A home-invasion robbery suspect set to go to trial next month is back in jail after the Spokane police detective who investigated the case said the man drunkenly approached him at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.
Nathaniel Jay Dishneau, 30, was prohibited from leaving Spokane County or contacting case witnesses when he approached Detective L. Tofsrud Sept. 3 about 7 p.m. at the Coeur d’Alene Resort and said, “You know I can’t do life, man,” according to court documents, apparently a reference to Dishneau’s possible consequences under the state’s three-strikes law.
Dishneau was arrested over the weekend after prosecutors alleged he violated his release conditions on burglary, assault and armed robbery charges when he left the county and approached a witness.
Prosecutors wanted $750,000 bail; Superior Court Judge Michael Price imposed $50,000. Dishneau already was out on $35,000 bond. Dishneau’s lawyer, Stephen Heintz, had asked for his client to be released on his own recognizance, saying he’s kept in great contact about the upcoming trial.
Police say Dishneau is a gang member. His criminal history includes several assault convictions, including convictions tied to a shooting in 1998 outside a fast-food restaurant, and to a shooting in 2004 at a Spokane Valley restaurant.
His new charges stem from an alleged home-invasion robbery at 1618 E. Liberty on Christmas Eve. Witnesses said Dishneau was armed with a gun when he and two other men burst in stole electronics.
Detective Tofsrud was off-duty at the resort earlier this month when Dishneau approached with a cup of beer.
“Dishneau appeared emotional and indicated that he wanted to talk to me about this investigation and the fact that he was being criminally charged,” according to a police report.
Dishneau denied have a gun during the incident and said he’d “just went over there to get my stuff back,” Tofsrud wrote. Dishneau continued to drink his beer, told the detective he has children “and wanted me to consider this as a deciding factor in whether or not he should be incarcerated,” Tofsrud wrote.
Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla was notified of the contact and issued an arrest warrant on Friday. Dishneau remains in the Spokane County Jail.
A Spokane man faces life in prison under the state’s 3 strikes law after a jury convicted him in connection with a July 2009 shooting that injured two women.
Jurors were split on attempted murder and first-degree assault charges against Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious by Spokane County prosecutors, citing questions over whether another man may have fired shots at the women.
But the jury foreman said all 12 believed Lucious had banged on the car window and threatened the women with a gun, justifying a second-degree assault conviction.
Superior Court Judge Annette Plese ordered Lucious, 39, held without bail until sentencing on Oct. 14.
Described as a gang member by Spokane police, Lucious already has convictions for two violent crimes.
Under state law, Thursday’s conviction earns him a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Public defender Steven Reich said prosecutors “grossly overcharged” Lucious and said while he’s pleased jurors wouldn’t convict on the murder charges, the outcome is the same for Lucious under the 3-strikes law.
A Spokane man facing life in prison for a July 2009 shooting may be wrongly accused, his lawyer told jurors during closing arguments Wednesday .
Police halted their investigation into the shooter’s identity after the alleged victims identified Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious (right) as the gunman, said public defender Steven Reich.
Nearly a year after the shooting, authorities learned that another man - possibly armed with a .45 handgun - was with the women. But the group had lied about Antonio E. Cook’s presence because his probation prohibited from being out after 10 p.m. and “they would have continued to lie had it not been discovered,” Reich said.
“They haven’t earned your trust,” Reich told jurors.
Reich suggested that Cook fired, likely on accident, the shots that injured Donna M. Dansby and Zsaja J. Branch.
Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla said Reich may wish a .45 was present during the shooting, but the evidence just doesn’t support that claim.
Jurors are to continue deliberations this morning. Lucious is charged with six counts of attempted murder; first-degree assault is included as an alternative charge.
His defense focuses on what Reich said is a shaky case built on testimony from women who may be protecting the real shooter.
Though most witnesses said Cook (left) did not have a gun, one said he did, and Reich said it was likely the others were lying to protect Cook. He pointed to what Branch told doctors at the hospital - that she’d been shot with a .45.
“How would she know?” Reich said.
Police have said Lucious used a 9 mm handgun in the shooting.
Cipolla said in his rebuttal that if Branch had rally been shot in the chest with a .45 “she would have been split in half.”
Superior Court Judge Annette Plese sustained Reich’s objection because no experts ever testified about the impact of a .45.
Reich told jurors that Cook has been convicted of crimes that contest his character, including witness tampering and theft. He reminded jurors that Cook was forced to testify, despite Lucious allegedly trying to kill Branch, who is the mother of Cook’s daughter. He also pointed out that Cook fled the shooting scene despite Branch being rushed to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Cipolla said the facts of the case speak for themselves.
“This man right here used a gun on a car full of women for no apparent reason,” Cipolla said.
The jury deliberated for about an hour Wednesday afternoon and will be back at the courthouse at 9 a.m. today.
If convicted of attempted murder or the lesser charge, first-degree assault, Lucious will be sentenced to life in prison without parole because he already has two violent crime convictions.
Jurors are not allowed to know his possible punishment, but Reich emphasized that “any decision you make will have a a longstanding impact on Mr. Lucious.”
A codefendant, Michael R. Gardner, pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in January and was credited for time served.
Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla expects to wrap up his case against Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious today after testimony from four or five witnesses, including a man authorities apparently didn’t know was connected to the July 2009 shooting until a few months ago.
Antonio E. Cook, Jr., 29, (left) was with a group of women when they drove to meet another group for a fight early July 24 to settle a dispute that began at a north side bar. Two of the women testified Monday that they’d brought Cook along for “protection” during the fight.
But the women hadn’t told investigators about Cook until long after Lucious’ arrest, according to court testimony. Lucious’ lawyer, Steve Reich, said repeatedly that Cook was known to carry a .45 handgun.
Lucious, who already has two convictions for violent crimes under the state’s three strikes law, faces six counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of drive-by shooting for the shooting on July 24, 2009. First-degree assault is listed as an alternative charge. The trial opened Monday before a jury of eight women and five men (one juror is an alternate). As is customary, jurors are not allowed to know Lucious’ possible punishment.
Lucious (right, in 2009) wore black slacks, black shoes and a white pine striped shirt with buzzed hair and a beard and mustache.
Witnesses included alleged attempted-murder victim, 18-year-old Ebony Branch, who said she didn’t tell police about Cook, the father of her sister’s baby, because Cook was prohibited from being out after 10 p.m. by the state Department of Corrections.
Reich said Branch didn’t tell him that during an interview in March, either.
Branch said she didn’t tell investigators until “a couple of months ago” but denied conspiring with the other women to hide Cook’s involvement.
Testimony from Branch and another alleged victim, Donna M. Dansby, portrayed a wild fight between several women that led to a showdown in a park on the lower South Hill, near 7th and Newark.
Dansby testified that she removed her heeled shoes and used them as weapons while charging a woman who later grabbed a butcher knife after spitting a razor blade from her mouth. Dansby and her friends then traveled from the bar to an after party, where they met the women again and agreed to meet at the park for a fight.
When they arrived at the park, Lucious was there with a gun, Branch said. Lucious fired several shots at the car as they drove away, Branch testified, then was still there with the gun when they realized they’d forgotten Zsaja J. Branch, Ebony’s older sister.
They turned around to picked her up, and Zsaja was shot by Lucious as she ran to the car, Ebony Branch testified.
Branch was shot in the chest and survived, though police initially considered the wound life threatening, according to court documents. Dansby was shot in the arm during the melee but testified that she doesn’t remember how it happened.
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.
A Spokane gang member facing life in prison for a shooting that injured two women in July 2009 is to stand trial this week in Superior Court.
Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious, who already has two convictions for violent crimes under the state’s three-strikes law, faces six counts of attempted murder for the shooting on July 24, 2009. First-degree assault is listed as an alternative charge.
Spokane County Deputy mark Cipolla filed four additional attempted-murder charges against Lucious in February after the suspect turned down a plea deal, according to court documents. (Details on the proposed deal are not available.)
Lucious now stands accused of attempting to murder Donna M. Dansby, Zsaja J. Branch, Marquetta M. Scales, Summer R. Abrahamson, Amber C. Branch and Ebony V. Branch. Zsaja Branch suffered a gunshot wound to her chest, Dansby was shot in her left arm.
The melee began when the women were at the now closed Lefty’s Steak and Sports and a woman “was yelling to Dansby something about Spokane girls all being bitches,” then continued to the area of 7th and Newark, when Lucious allegedly showed up with a gun, according to court documents. A co-defendant, Michael R. Gardner, pleaded guilty to third-degree assault for his role in the incident.
A jury of 12 Spokane County resident was to be selected by Friday. Opening statements are to begin this morning.
A judge allowed Lucious to act as his own lawyer in May, but he changed his mind a couple weeks later and Steve Reich was reappointed. Lucious’ Aug. 10 request for a new public defender was denied.
Superior Court Judge Annette Plese is presiding over the trial.
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.
Spokane County prosecutors will not pursue the dozens of attempted murder charges filed against four men arrested after shots were fired at Hoopfest.
Deputy Prosecutor Steve Garvin said in court documents filed this week that he will instead seek assault charges against the men, whose lawyers had argued for the dismissal of the charges in court last week, citing lack of probable cause. Superior Court Judge Michael Price was to make a decision on Friday.
Garvin declined to say why prosecutors decided against attempted murder charges.
“I don’t think that that’s something useful to get out in the public domain,” Garvin said Wednesday. “Call me in a year when the case is done.”
Miguel C. Garcia, 19; Adam Doe, 19; Marquis D. Johnson (right), 22; and Rashjel C. “Reggie” Cage, 24 (left); have been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, 10 counts of attempted first-degree murder and single counts of riot and unlawful possession of a firearm for a June 26 shooting in which police say Garcia fired several shots into a crowd, targeting rival gang members but striking three bystanders. Two were hospitalized with minor injuries.
Under the prosecutor’s proposal, the men, who are in jail, will be charged with five counts of first-degree assault, one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault along with riot and firearms charges. Doe also is charged with third-degree assault after a Spokane police officer said the teen struggled violently when he was arrested with the gun used in the shooting.
Spokane County public defender Kari Reardon, who represents Cage, said in court last week that investigators are mistaken to believe the men were conspiring together simply because they were standing together when one allegedly fired the gun.
Prosecutors say Garcia said “we are going to do this” before he fired the gun, but Reardon said that isn’t evidence that the other men knew what he planned to do.
Prosecutors say the men conspired to commit the assaults as part of long-standing rivalry between two gangs.
Two of the alleged assault victims, Kalen J. Bedford and Andre Conway are members of the Blocc Hustlers gang, which is rival to Doe and Cage’s Murder One Crips gang, according to police.
Police say Cage is a gang leader and has been involved in past shootings targeting the Blocc Hustlers.
Bedford and 21-year-old Tyrone Carell, were cited for disorderly conduct after the Hoopfest shooting.
Cage’s brother, Rakee Cage (left, in 2007), told The Spokesman-Review that only Garcia is responsible for the shooting.
“They think we share the same brain,” Rakee Cage said of police and prosecutors. “They’ve got three innocent people in jail.”
He said the shooting was not planned.
“Who plans to do something in front of thousands of people? You might as well walk down to the county jail and knock on the door,” Rakee Cage said.
Rakee Cage, who has a conviction for a gang-related stabbing outside a Spokane nightclub last fall, said police were exaggerating the problem between the two gangs.
“I’ve talked to the Blocc Hustlers,” Cage said. “There might be feuding between two groups, but it’s not really a rivalry.”
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.
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.
The last of four men charged with attempted murder for a shooting at Hoopfest has been transported to the Spokane County Jail.
Marquis D. Johnson, 21, (right) appeared in Superior Court today on two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, 10 counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of riot after arriving in Spokane from the Benton County Jail on Thursday.
Johnson was being held on a probation violation after he was arrested at Hoopfest on June 26. He’d only been out of prison since June 6 after serving about three years for a gun-related assault conviction.
Prosecutors allege Johnson was with Miguel C. Garcia, 19; Adam Doe, 19; and Rashjel C. “Reggie” Cage, 23, when Garcia fired a gun at least three times, injuring three bystanders.
Witnesses said Cage passed the gun to Garcia, who fired it and passed it to Doe, who was arrested at gunpoint after trying to flee the scene, police said.
Johnson was identified “as being present at the time of the shooting in close proximity to Cage and Garcia,” according to court documents. “They were both actively involved in the argument before and after the shooting.”
Kalen J. Bedford, who was arrested the day of the shooting on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge, apparently was targeted by the gunfire - he is listed as the intended victim in a fist-degree attempted murder charge.
Five of the 10 alleged attempted-murder victims are identified only as Jane or John Doe. First-degree assault is included as a an alternative charge in each case.
Defense attorneys told a judge last week that prosecutors don’t have a legal basis for the charges, but Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Garvin said the “theory” of his office is quite straightforward: “When you point a gun at someone … what other intent do you have but to cause their death?”
Defense attorney David Partovi, who is representing Garcia, said after last week’s hearing that under Garvin’s theory, prosecutors should have charged former Spokane police Officer Jay Olsen with attempted murder in connection with his shooting of Shonto Pete on Feb. 26, 2007.
Read more here.
One man was targeted by gunfire twice in 5 weeks. Another already faces an attempted murder charge for a June shooting. And several others are alleged to have sold large quantities of crack cocaine and methamphetamine throughout Spokane.
Those men were among 19 suspects arrested today as part of an 18-month drug and firearms investigation targeting Spokane-area gangs.
“That’s an indication of the pervasiveness of the gang problem,” said Frank Harrill, agent in charge at the Spokane office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Read the rest of my story here.
Above is video of the raids shot from a sheriff’s helicopter.
A teenager arrested in connection with a shooting at Hoopfest last month was prohibited from leaving his home unless he was at school or with his parents.
That allegation from prosecutors gave Adam Doe, 19, his third felony charge related to the June 26 shooting - a second-degree escape charge that was filed this week.
Doe appeared on the charge in Superior Court today via video from the jail, where he’s held on $200,000 bail for assault and gun charges, and $50,000 bail for riot and assault charges related to an October 2009 stabbing.
Judge Sam Cozza imposed an additional $7,500 bond today for the escape charge.
If Doe posts bond, he’ll be on home detention and will only be allowed to leave his home between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. if accompanied by his mother or father.
Doe is accused of assaulting a police officer who tried to detain him with a gun investigators believe Miguel C. Garcia, 19, fired at least three times during a gang fight at Hoopfest. The bullets struck three bystanders. Garcia remains in jail on $750,000 bond.
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.
Here’s how to avoid getting hit by stray gunshots in Spokane, according to Paul Turner of The Slice/SR (full list here):
- 1. If you are attending the symphony and notice that more than a few others in the concert hall are shirtless, turn around and go home.
- 2. If a lot of the others who showed up for a meeting about sustainable transportation alternatives seem glassy-eyed high or pointlessly belligerent, take a rain-check.
- 3. If you are at the library’s reference desk and everyone nearby is yelling and cursing and generally trying to act tough, save your question for another time.
Question: Besides avoiding Spokane altogether, what suggestions would you add to Paul’s list re: how to avoid stray gunshots in Spokane?
A teenager arrested in connection with a shooting at Hoopfest on Saturday will need to pay an additional $50,000 bond to get out of jail, and if he does get out, he’ll be on home detention.
Prosecutors requested the additional bond for Adam Doe for assault and riot charges related to an October 2009 stabbing after Doe was arrested at Hoopfest. Doe, 19, was released from jail on his own recognizance in December under the condition he not possess weapons and he not commit crimes.
The $50,000 bond, requested by Deputy Prosecutor Steve Garvin and approved by Judge Ellen Kalama Clark, is in addition to $200,000 bond imposed Tuesday in District Court, where Doe is charged with third-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm for the Hoopfest incident.
Under Garvin’s request, If Doe posts bond, he’ll be on home detention and will only be allowed to leave his home between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. if accompanied by his mother or father. Doe’s mother has told court officials he isn’t welcome at her home, a judge said Tuesday.
Doe’s public defender, Dennis Dressler, has said Doe was close to resolving the stabbing charges when he was arrested.
Dressler declined to comment today on the proposed plea deal, saying Doe’s new arrest “put a little bit of a wrinkle” in it.
Doe remains in Spokane County Jail, along with suspected gunman Miguel C. Garcia.
Garcia faces three counts of first-degree assault after police said he fired a gun during a gang fight at Hoopfest. The bullets hit three bystanders.