2 Top 'Murder Inc.' Defendants Receive Life Terms With No Parole
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Two men convicted of running Washington's most murderous drug gang were sentenced yesterday to multiple life prison terms with no chance of parole.
The punishments were meted out after more than a dozen mothers, fathers and other relatives of people slain by the Murder Inc. gang took the stand. Each one urged U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth to give Kevin L. Gray and Rodney L. Moore the stiffest possible penalty.
"Why should they get to see their family, when I don't get to ever see my brother again?" asked Athena Green. Her brother, Demetrius Green, was 15 when he was killed in 1997 in a Southwest Washington neighborhood where the gang operated an open-air drug market. "He never got to have children or get married or enjoy even the little things in life."
Gray received 26 life sentences to be served concurrently, and Moore got 14. Lamberth also gave life terms to four gang lieutenants -- John Raynor, Timothy Handy, Lionel Nunn and Calvin Smith.
All six were convicted in January 2003 of multiple homicides and drug conspiracy after an eight-month trial. Prosecutors charged that the gang was responsible for the deaths of 28 people from 1989 to 1999.
The government said Gray and Moore led an organization that killed rivals and potential witnesses and terrorized neighborhoods in an effort to maintain dominance in the cocaine and heroin trade. Prosecutors sought the death penalty for Gray and Moore, but the jury was stalemated on that issue.
Gray, 33, was convicted of 19 murders, more than any other defendant ever tried in the District. Moore, 39, was convicted of 10 murders.
In court yesterday, Gray told the judge that he was a victim of prosecutors, who convinced witnesses to lie "so they could get a conviction."
"There never was a Rodney Moore-Kevin Gray conspiracy. Murder Inc. was a name made up by [FBI] agents. The whole case was built on lies," Gray said. "Now that everybody's had their 15 minutes of fame, I look forward to my appeal."
U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein praised the work of investigators and prosecutors and applauded the courage of victims' family members to testify at trial and to speak yesterday in court.
"Today's sentencing of the Murder Inc. defendants demonstrates that law enforcement will use every resource and expend every effort to remove from society those who use violence as a means of doing business," Wainstein said.
Patricia Hicks, 43, told the judge that losing her son, Willie Floyd, was made even more painful because the person convicted of shooting him -- Raynor -- had been a neighborhood child she took in when his mother threw him out of the family home.
"I let this little boy sleep in my house," she said. "I'm not going to get to heaven because I can't forgive him."
Floyd's cousin, Carlissa Stevens, said Gray, Moore and their associates showed no remorse for the former friends and neighbors they killed.
"These people are animals, they're not people," she said. "I really wish you could give them the death penalty because that's what they deserve."
Gray's attorney, David Baugh, urged the judge to show some leniency, saying that extreme punishment doesn't work.
"Since these men have been locked up, the murder rate in your city has not gone down," Baugh said. "The police and the courts cannot make . . . the streets any safer. Only parenting can."
Baugh said the community had lost not only the victims but also the defendants' possible contribution to society. "I hope and pray one day Kevin Gray gets out and can show his talent and his value."