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D.C. officer pleads guilty in fatal robbery gone awry

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By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An off-duty D.C. police officer charged in a deadly December street robbery gone wrong pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder and conspiracy before a D.C. Superior Court judge.

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Officer Reginald Jones, 41, a seven-year member of the department, faces the possibility of life in prison in the shooting death of Arvel S. Alston, 40, during the botched Dec. 1 robbery and kidnapping of a drug dealer in the 4200 block of Fourth Street SE.

Jones was the second of five suspects to plead guilty in the case. Also charged were Jones's friend Lynn D. Wilkerson, 33, of Hyattsville; Jarvis Clark, 19, of Temple Hills; Rashun M. Parker, 27; and the slain man's son, Arvel Crawford, 19. The men had planned to rob Tyrone Herring, but Herring fought back, and Crawford's gun went off. The bullet hit Alston -- who was allegedly also one of the robbers -- in the upper right chest.

In January, Parker also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy. Although Jones had not been indicted, he was facing a felony first-degree murder charge because Alston was killed during a robbery and kidnapping.

Judge Michael L. Rankin asked Jones, who was wearing a prison jumpsuit and whose wrists and ankles were shackled, why he was pleading guilty. "Because I am guilty," Jones responded. Jones, who appeared much smaller than his previously stout, football-player build, told the judge that he had lost about 68 pounds while in jail.

Jones, who lived in Upper Marlboro, then told Judge Michael L. Rankin how he and Wilkerson had devised the scheme to rob Herring and had planned to carry out the robbery Nov. 30 but were unable to find Herring. They returned to the Washington Highlands area Dec. 1. Jones said no one planned to kill anyone.

At times, Jones's voice cracked as he tried to speak, with the judge urging him to take his time. Jones told Rankin how on Dec. 1, he picked up Wilkerson in his cruiser, a day after the men had tried to find Herring but couldn't. Jones said he drove Wilkerson in the cruiser to the same area. And then "things went bad."

"I know this is a bitter pill," Rankin said. "You made a choice then. What's the saying, in for a dime, in for a dollar?"

A police spokeswoman said Jones was on "indefinite suspension without pay."

Another hearing is scheduled for the three remaining defendants before Rankin on Thursday. Rankin told Jones and his attorney, Brian K. McDaniel, and assistant U.S. Attorney John Giovannelli that he doesn't plan to sentence Jones until early 2011.

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