Suspects in March fatal drive-by indicted, additional suspects expected to be charged
Friday, December 17, 2010; 11:36 PM
Five men have been indicted on 90 charges stemming from a series of shootings that culminated in a drive-by attack on South Capitol Street in March that left three people dead, authorities said Friday.
In all, five people were killed and eight others wounded in a quick spate of violence and retaliation that shocked the city.
The five defendants appeared in court Friday amid heightened security, in part because authorities found a handcuff key on one of the men and partly because of increasing tension among families of the victims and suspects.
Four of the men - Orlando Carter, 21, Robert Bost, 22, Jeffrey D. Best, 21, and Lamar Williams, 22 - were each charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder while armed in the March 30 drive-by shootings in the 4000 block of South Capitol Street SE that left three people dead and six wounded.
Carter also was charged in the March 22 fatal shooting of Jordan Howe, 20, and with assault with intent to kill another man outside a party in the 1300 block of Alabama Avenue SE. Carter's brother, Sanquan Carter, 20, and Best and Williams also were charged in those shootings.
All five defendants, shackled and dressed in orange prison jumpsuits, were escorted into Courtroom 310 and sat in the empty jury box. Five U.S. marshals were positioned in the jury box on both sides of the men and four marshals were posted in the back of the courtroom.
Marshals found a handcuff key stuffed inside of Best's jail identification wrist bracelet, officials said. Best's attorney, Michael K. O'Keefe, said he was informed of the key just minutes before Friday's proceedings and declined to comment.
In addition, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Brittin told Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz, who will be overseeing the case, of tension between the families that erupted during previous hearings in front of another judge. Leibovitz alerted the audience that additional security would be ordered if needed.
The five men were charged with the 90 counts associated with three related shootings. The charges include aggravated circumstances, which would allow the judge to sentence the men to life in prison.
But more charges and defendants could be added. During the hearing, Brittin told the judge that he hoped to obtain a superseding indictment. Officials familiar with the investigation said some of the added charges could include witness intimidation.
"Our work is ongoing," Britton told the judge.
Leibovitz set a tentative trial date of Jan. 30, 2012, but acknowledged that date might be delayed if more suspects are charged.