Three NW gang members sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for murders

Three members of a Northwest Washington street gang who were convicted of various crimes, including the 2010 daylight slaying of a rival gang member outside a funeral, were sentenced to more than 30 years in prison Friday.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz sentenced Robert Givens, 21, to 30 years in prison, Lester Williams, 26, to more than 47 years in prison and Marcellus Jackson, 25, to 38 years in prison. The men were convicted in March, following a nearly four-month trial, of being members of the 14th and Girard gang, also known as the G-Rod crew.

Prosecutors said the men were engaged in a long-standing rivalry with two other gangs that were based in the neighborhoods of 17th and Euclid streets NW and the 600 block of Morton Street NW.

Givens was found guilty of the 2010 fatal shooting of Sean Robinson, 18, in the parking lot of a school. Williams and Jackson were convicted of the 2010 death of Jamal Coates, 21, who was fatally shot in the busy corridor of 14th and U streets NW after attending a funeral.

A fourth defendant in the case, Keir Johnson, 24, who was also convicted in Coates’s death, is awaiting sentencing following the reappointment of a new attorney.

It was a long and challenging trial that began with controversy as the prosecutors, in an unusual move, conducted criminal background checks on several of the potential jurors, most of whom were African American. The move sparked concern among many of the defense attorneys and the judge overseeing the trial.

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Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

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