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14-year-old faces 41 counts in 4 D.C. slayings

By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 8, 2010; B01

The 14-year old youth who police said drove the minivan in last week's mass shooting in Southeast Washington has been charged with 41 counts in juvenile court, including four of first-degree murder while armed, attempted murder while armed and assault with intent to kill, according to court records revealed Wednesday.

At a closed juvenile hearing before D.C. Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Wingo on Wednesday, prosecutors cited charges that include six counts of attempted murder while armed, 12 of assault with intent to murder while armed and six of aggravated assault while armed. The teen also was charged with reckless driving and driving without a permit.

Because the case is in juvenile court, it is accelerated. Court officials set a bench trial for May 13 before Judge Maurice Ross. The teen has another hearing set for April 15.

The March 30 shooting, in the 4000 block of South Capital Street in the Washington Highlands neighborhood, left four people dead and five others wounded. Also charged in the shooting were two District men, Orlando Carter, 20, and Nathaniel Simms, 26.

Reporters were not allowed at the juvenile court hearing because a media outlet had previously identified the juvenile, which is against D.C. Superior Court regulations. But according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, the youth remains in a maximum security juvenile detention facility, where he has been housed since his arrest. The teen, who has been in and out of juvenile court since he was 9, had twice fled from minimum-security facilities.

Under D.C. law, a juvenile younger than 15 cannot be treated as an adult in the courts, regardless of how serious the offense. The Post generally does not name juveniles charged with crimes unless they are tried as adults.

If the teen is found culpable for murder, a family court judge cannot order confinement. A youth can be placed on probation or committed to the custody of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

The department decides whether the offender should be held at a detention facility and for how long -- a source of frustration for many judges. The teen can be locked up until he turns 21. At that point, the family court and the DYRS would lose jurisdiction, and he would go free.

Police said the shooting stemmed from a series of retaliations that began with a missing bracelet owned by Orlando Carter's brother, Sanquan Carter.

In a separate hearing Wednesday before Judge Lynn Leibovitz, Sanquan Carter, 19, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, sat with his attorneys as a homicide detective outlined the events for the judge.

The missing bracelet triggered an outburst of gunfire March 22 that resulted in the death of Jordan Howe, 20, in Southeast Washington, according to police. That incident, in turn, sparked one of the District's deadliest mass shootings in years.

Wednesday's hearing involving Sanquan Carter was about charges in the Howe shooting. He was jailed in connection with that incident when the mass shooting occurred March 30.

Sanquan Carter, often appeared agitated as the lead homicide detective, Anthony Patterson, described how Carter was in an apartment in the 1300 block of Alabama Ave SE on March 21, having sex with a woman during a party. Later, Carter became irate and complained that someone had stolen his bracelet, Patterson said.

Carter then called his brother Orlando, who came to the apartment, Patterson said. Witnesses said they saw Sanquan Carter walk to the driver's side of the vehicle and watched Orlando hand him something, Patterson testified. Then Sanquan Carter walked over to the apartment building and showed off a .38-caliber gun; Orlando Carter parked the car and walked over carrying an AK-47, Patterson said.

Patterson said Sanquan Carter began "patting" down many of the people at the party, asking each about the bracelet.

According to Patterson, one witness said Sanquan turned to his brother and asked, "Do you want to hammer them?" The Carters then began shooting into the crowd, the detective testified. Howe was fatally shot. At least one other person was shot in the leg after running back into the apartment building.

On March 23, a day after the Alabama Avenue shooting, Sanquan Carter was arrested and charged in Howe's slaying. That same day, Orlando Carter was shot and was treated for minor wounds to his head and shoulder at Washington Hospital Center. Patterson said that no one has been arrested in that shooting and that Carter fled the hospital before being discharged.

Then, on March 30, after attending Howe's funeral, dozens of mourners were outside an apartment building on South Capital Street about 7:20 p.m. Patterson said Orlando Carter, with Simms and the juvenile, drove by in a minivan and began shooting into the crowd.

Sanquan Carter's preliminary hearing was continued until Monday. He is being held at the D.C. jail. The preliminary hearing for Orlando Carter and Simms is scheduled for April 15 before Judge Michael L. Rankin.

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