Convicted killer admits to slaying five more victims in the District

By Chris L. Jenkins, Maria Glod and Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A District man serving a prison sentence for two murders has admitted that he is responsible for five additional killings, including the shooting of a witness and a shooting over a pet dog, police and court documents say.

Ronald T. Brisbon, 35, told police that the victims included a pair of teenagers he thought were in a rival crew and a mother of six who he thought was going to testify against his brother in an unrelated shooting. All of the shootings occurred in Southeast Washington between 1994 and 2000, one of the deadliest periods in the city's history.

"These killings were reminiscent of what it used to be like in the city with a string of retaliations," D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said. "Closing these cases is like turning toward a new day."

Law enforcement sources said Brisbon has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the five additional slayings after a quiet deal was reached. The slayings, as described in court papers, were especially vicious and coldblooded. But Capt. Mike Farish of the department's homicide branch said Brisbon showed some remorse as he recounted each of the killings for police.

Farish said Brisbon was an enforcer for a neighborhood crew known as Hilltop, near the eastern edge of the city. Four of the slayings involved small-time drug turf squabbles and other "nonsense crew beefs" with a rival crew at 17th and C streets, near Eastern High School, Farish said.

Brisbon came forward after so long because of an odd sense of justice stemming from his previous conviction, law enforcement sources said.

Brisbon was sentenced to 65 years to life in prison for a drive-by shooting in May 2000 on East Capitol Street that killed two people. A friend of Brisbon's had a fight at a nightclub, and the pair drove by looking to kill someone from the fight. They shot into a crowd of about 15 people.

Law enforcement sources said Brisbon and his co-defendant in that shooting, Michael Wonson, appealed their convictions. Wonson got a new trial, but Brisbon didn't. That angered Brisbon and prompted him to contact police about the other slayings, the sources said. He figured that he would be in prison for life anyway, one of the sources said, he might as well be there for everything he did. Brisbon is expected to cooperate with investigators for Wonson's second trial, which is scheduled for November.

The cousin of one victim, Marilyn Johnson, who was killed in 2000 because she might have testified against Brisbon's brother, said Tuesday night that Brisbon's arrest brought relief, tears and anger.

"It's just closure to know he finally admitted to what he did. It lets you prepare yourself for forgiveness," Jeannette Mosley said.

Farish said that after Brisbon came forward, police spent months corroborating his statement with forensic evidence and decade-old witness accounts. They matched up and Brisbon was charged.

Court papers outline a run of needless death that started when Brisbon was 19 and didn't end until his arrest in 2000.

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