Eight men were charged in several related shootings at the time, and three pleaded guilty. But only one was convicted in court, and that
conviction was overturned last month. That has prosecutors wondering
whether to retry him and some residents frustrated with the mixed outcomes of the investigations into a challenging and dangerous time in
Robinson, who was shot in his back, and six others were struck in a series of incidents on July 19, 2008. Five men were tried in D.C. Superior Court over five weeksin April 2011, the testimony of the man who pleaded guilty a key component of the prosecution’s case.
Only Marcus Brown was convicted, found guilty of assault with intent to kill and related offenses. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
The D.C. Court of Appeals’ Jan. 24 overturning of Brown’s conviction is a blow to District prosecutors and police, who were intent on locking up the men responsible for Robinson’s killing and related shootings but struggled to find credible witnesses.
The teen, who was visiting an ailing grandmother in the District, was standing a few steps from his mother when he was shot during a gun battle between neighborhood crews who fired indiscriminately into a crowd.
In a unanimous decision, a three-judge appeals panel ruled that the judge who oversaw the 2011 trial, Thomas J. Motley, failed to properly instruct the jury after it returned guilty verdicts on five of the six charges Brown faced.
Each juror except one told Motley they agreed with the verdict, so Motley told the jury to deliberate until all of them agreed. The appeals court ruled that he failed to warn them about pressuring the dissenting juror into siding with the majority.
“As a result, the potential for coercion, while not the highest we have encountered, was still ‘especially high’ for the dissenting juror and high as well even for the others,” wrote Senior Judge John M. Ferren, in the panel’s ruling.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to say whether prosecutors planned to retry Brown, who is in prison in connection with a different case.
Eight men were charged in the shooting. Jeff Tuckson pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon, while charges were dropped against Kevin Gross in exchange for a guilty plea in an unrelated federal drug and assault case. Gross was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2011.
Kenneth Williams pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case, and he was sentenced to 22 years in prison in April.
Prosecutors took Brown and four other men — Antonio McAllister, William McCorkle and twin brothers Joshua and Christian Benton — to trial in connection with the July 2008 shooting..