By Keith L. Alexander
Saturday, November 13, 2010; B01
A D.C. Superior Court jury found three District men guilty of first-degree murder Friday in a 2008 slaying and of being members of a D.C. gang that orchestrated the murder.
After a nine-week trial and 10 days of deliberations, the jury of nine men and three women found Darnell Anderson, 24, Joseph A. Jenkins, 29, and James C. Bates, 28, guilty of first-degree murder, obstruction and gun possession.
The men were also found guilty of being members of an illegal street gang, the Todd Place crew, and of charges that they conspired in the shooting death of Gary O. English as English parked his car outside his home in the 2000 block of Lincoln Road NE.
Prosecutors said English, 33, was a member of the T Street gang, a rival of the Todd Place crew.
English's slaying on April 15, 2008, was the culmination of a series of shootings that occurred between April and July that year. Twelve other people were wounded in the assaults.
The conviction was a major win for D.C. prosecutors and authorities, who used a new District law aimed at criminal gangs that makes it unlawful for a member of a street gang to participate in a felony or violent misdemeanor.
Five members of the Todd Street gang were charged in connection with English's slaying. But the jury acquitted two of the men - Edward E. Warren, 19, and Obbie English III, 24 - of murder. Warren was found guilty of obstruction of justice and weapons charges. He is serving a 40-year sentence for murder in a separate slaying. English is serving a 10-year sentence for a non-fatal shooting in 2008. He was acquitted of all charges in English's slaying.
In all, each of the five men faced 93 counts, for a total of 440 charges, that included assault and weapons charges as well as multiple counts of gang affiliation. Each gang charge carries a maximum of five years.
In celebrating the verdict, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen praised the D.C. Council for passing the gang statute in 2006 and giving prosecutors a "powerful new tool" in dismantling neighborhood gangs.
The lead prosecutor in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Saybolt, said that although he would have preferred all five defendants to have been found guilty of murder, he was pleased that the three men who were in the car and who fired on English were found guilty. Saybolt said that Warren and Obbie English were in another car, although he alleged that all five men conspired to kill English.
Saybolt said the gang law allowed prosecutors to create a stronger conspiracy case that also included the drug and weapons charges in addition to the murder count.
At least one of the defense attorneys, Stephen O. Russell, who represented Bates, said he planned to appeal. Russell said the jury's decision not to find all five men guilty of gang affiliation proved to him that prosecutors had failed to unilaterally prove that all of the men were members of a gang at the time of the slaying.
Sentencing for the four men is scheduled for January.