A D.C. Superior Court jury yesterday found a 19-year-old Southeast Washington man guilty of murder in the Christmas night 1981 shooting of a former H.D. Woodson High School honors student.
The jury deliberated less than three hours before finding that Jackson T. Ellerbe, of 3216 15th Pl. SE, shot Antonio J. Florence twice in the back as Florence, who had represented the school on the television program, "It's Academic," tried to flee an attempted armed robbery at a bus stop.
Ellerbe and another 19-year-old from the neighborhood, Robert L. DeLoach, of 3247 Stanton Rd. SE, accosted Florence around 9 p.m. as he was waiting to take a bus to visit a friend, according to court testimony. Several witnesses who knew all three youths testified at the trial that Ellerbe and DeLoach pushed Florence against a fence and were going through his pockets when Florence broke free and ran. Ellerbe, who was also convicted of carrying a pistol without a license, fired twice, hitting Florence in the back.
After he was shot, Florence ran about two blocks toward his home in the Stanton Dwellings housing project on Robinson Place SE. His body was found half a block from his home, lying on a walkway across the street from Ellerbe's home. He was clutching 35 cents in his hand, another 35 cents was scattered near his body and he had $6.60 in his pockets, according to assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Warin.
Shortly after the jury began deliberations yesterday, DeLoach, who had been charged with felony murder for assisting Ellerbe in the attempted robbery, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder while armed. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
Ellerbe, who is serving a 12-year sentence after a conviction in June for robbery and burglary, faces a mandatory sentence of 20 years to life in prison for the murder, and 10 years for carrying a pistol without a license. Chief Judge H. Carl Moultrie I said he would sentence both in early January.