But Orlando Carter had been recognized at the party. Instead of telling authorities, Andre Morgan testified last week, he planned to avenge his dead friend — and is now charged with plotting to kill Orlando Carter.
Morgan’s testimony highlights the sprawling, complex nature of the five-defendant trial, in which Orlando Carter, 22, and four other men face murder and other charges for their alleged roles in a series of March 2010 shootings that killed five. The trial is to start its third week Monday in D.C. Superior Court.
Jurors have heard from witnesses facing felony charges and others reluctant to speak. The trial could last months, and more than 100 could testify.
Morgan, 21, testified that he was outside the apartment after the party with his friend Jordan Howe, 20, on March 22, when he saw Orlando Carter arrive in a car and hand a gun to his brother Sanquan Carter, 21.
Angry after Sanquan’s gold-colored bracelet disappeared, authorities say, the brothers and another man began shooting at the crowd. Howe was killed, and two others were hurt.
Morgan never planned to tell police, he testified. Instead, he told the jury, his first thought as he held Howe after the shooting was: “Kill Sanquan and Orlando.”
People familiar with the case say Morgan and several friends then planned an attack on Orlando Carter the next day — an attack Orlando Carter survived.
Authorities said Orlando Carter then orchestrated further retribution: a March 30 drive-by shooting in the 4000 block of South Capitol Street SE that targeted mourners who had attended Howe’s funeral. The drive-by, and the killing of a 17-year-old during a robbery minutes earlier, left another four dead and six injured.
Morgan’s testimony was one of last week’s key developments in the government’s case against the five men charged in the shootings. It also illustrates a common frustration for District authorities who often struggle to find cooperative witnesses. Police say many are distrustful of them, while some witnesses say they fear for their safety.
“It’s very frustrating,” a homicide detective familiar with Orlando Carter’s case said in an interview. “We like to close these cases as quickly as we can, but you have witnesses who refuse or have that ‘I’m not a snitch’ mentality.”
In addition to the Carter brothers, also on trial are Jeffrey D. Best, 23; Robert Bost, 23; and Lamar Williams, 23. Each is charged with dozens of offenses, including first-degree murder, conspiracy and assault. All five have pleaded not guilty.