Three young men pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder and armed robbery in D.C. Superior Court yesterday in connection with a February holdup at a Northwest Washington go-go club during which an off-duty D.C. police officer was killed.
Officer Bernis Carr Jr., 34, was fatally shot in the head and chest after one of the robbers discovered that he was a policeman according to the U.S. Attorney's office. The incident occurred about 7.45 p.m. Feb. 16 at Jim's lounge at 4801 Georgia Ave. NW.
In April a Superior Court grand jury charged five men with felony murder - murder during the commission of another crime - armed robbery and assault with intent to commit robbery, all in connection with the incident at limits.
Yesterday, Judge Alfred Burke [LINE ILLEGIBLE] Gorham, 18, of 1365 Kennedy St. NW: Dion M. Wilson, 23, of 1322 Massachusetts Ave. SE. and Ricardo A. Roberts, 18, of 1224 Southern Ave. SE.
Burka scheduled a hearing Wednesday in the case against a fourth defendant, James L. Wright, 21, of 1504 D. St. NE.
The fifth defendant, Gregory E. Williams, 25, who the government contends fired the shots that killed Carr, will stand trial Sept. 7 in Superior Court, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Benner.
Each of the three who entered guilty pleas yesterday could be sentenced to life imprisonment on the charges. Benner said. In exchange for the guilty pleas, the government agreed to drop other charges against them. Benner said. Because of their ages, Gorham and Roberts could be sentenced to indeterminate prison terms under the Youth Correction Act.
Burka said he will sentence all three Sept. 6 one day before Williams' trial.
All five defendants have been jailed on high money bonds since their arrest in connection with the holdup at the club.
In an unusual development yesterday, Burka heard testimony from the executive director of the Blackman's Development Center who asked Burka to release two of the defendents into the centers custody before sentencing. The center is certified by Superior Court to supervise defendants released from custody without bond.
Gen. Hassan Jeru-Ahmed, the Center's executive director, said in an interview yesterday that he had spoken with Roberts and Wilson and agreed to take them into custody. Hassan said he plans to interview Gorham.
Hassan proposed that the two defendants be released from jail, live with their parents and report to center headquaters at 502 Kennedy St. NW. The men would stay at the center from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Hassan said, then have three hours of "free time" with a requirement that they return home and check in with Hassan by 9 p.m. everyday.
Burka said he would consider the proposal.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Benner said he will recommend that all of the defendants who entered guilty pleas be held without bond. Rroberts' bond was revoked yesterday by Burka, but Gorham and Wilson each remain under $100,000 bonds.
According to court records, Gorham and Roberts were unemployed and Wilson was a maintenance man at the time of their arrest and Gorham and Roberts had completed 10th grade. Roberts had worked as a stock clerk at National Airport and Gorham was employed briefly at a Capitol Hill restaurant, according to records.
At yesterday's hearing, Gorham also pleaded guilty to another armed robbery charged after the government said it could prove he was involved in a holdup at the Ebony Hut, a bar at 4726 14th St. NW. That holdup occurred the day before the shooting at Jimi's, the government said.