A D.C. Superior Court judge, saying "that's the cheapest price I've yet heard for the price of a life in the District of Columbia," yesterday ordered a 20-year-old D.C. man held without bond for allegedly offering a $50 rock of crack cocaine in payment for a killing.
Judge Henry F. Greene granted a prosecutor's request to keep Herman Elliott Jr. jailed pending his trial next month on charges of first-degree murder and weapons offenses stemming from the shooting death of Anthony Kearney.
Elliott had grown tired of having Kearney rob customers and workers in his small Northeast Washington drug business, a D.C. homicide detective testified yesterday, and in March, Elliott decided to stop him.
On March 11, Elliott offered two men the crack "to kill a dude," Detective Ruben Sanchez testified. The next day, Kearney was shot. He died the following day.
"You couldn't demonstrate someone much more dangerous to the community than someone who would have someone killed for a $50 rock," Greene said.
The judge reached his decision after Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Friedman said that Elliott, of the 4200 block of Clay Street NE, had two additional cases pending in Superiort Court. One is a charge of assault with intent to kill while armed in connection with an incident two weeks after Kearney was fatally shot. The other is a charge of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute.
Detective Sanchez testified that police initially charged two men in Kearney's death -- Troy R. Nero and Melvin L. Smith. In a videotaped statement the day after Kearney died, Sanchez testified, Smith said that he and Nero had shot Kearney, whose body was found in an alley in the rear of the 1600 block of Rosedale Street NE. Nero and Smith are scheduled to be tried in connection with the shooting after Elliott's trial.
But over the next couple of weeks, Sanchez testified, investigators talked to several witnesses who implicated Elliott as the man behind the shooting.
One witness told police that Elliott had said that Kearney was robbing drug customers in the alley and "was tired of it," Sanchez said.
A second witness said that the day before the shooting, Elliott offered "a $50 piece to kill a dude."
Another witness identified Elliott as running from the alley where Kearney's body was found shortly after shots were heard.
Another witness told police that Elliott told Smith and Nero after the shootings that he would find someone else to "do the job" when he had not yet heard of Kearney's death. When the two men told Elliott that "the job was done," Sanchez testified, "he gave the two a $50 rock of crack."
In arguing for bond for Elliott, defense attorney John A. Briley Jr. told the judge police had not taken written statements from two of the witnesses. Briley also said that Smith's videotaped statement did not mention that Elliott had been involved.