A District man federal prosecutors had said they would seek the death penalty against for numerous drug-related homicides pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court yesterday and was immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole, according to a court spokesman.
Wayne Anthony Perry, 30, was scheduled for trial next week. He and two codefendants were charged in a 27-count indictment with committing murders to further a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, racketeering conspiracy, first-degree murder, retaliating against a witness, kidnapping and robbery.
Yesterday, Perry pleaded guilty to five counts of murder and furthering a continuing criminal enterprise, said Kevin Ohlson, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office. Immediately after Perry entered his plea, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan sentenced him.
The District's U.S. attorney, Eric H. Holder Jr., said yesterday that lawyers for Perry approached him to reopen negotiations on a plea agreement about 10 days ago.
"They told us there were a number of changed circumstances," Holder said. "In light of the changed circumstances and an offer for a plea to five counts of murder, we thought it was appropriate to accept the plea."
Holder declined to say what those circumstances cited by Perry's lawyers were. However, he said that although it is well-known that he is against capital punishment, the decision to accept the plea agreement was not based on his personal beliefs. He said the decision was reached by officials at the Justice Department, the trial team and supervisors in his office.
If Perry had chosen to stand trial as scheduled, it would have been the first death-penalty case brought to trial in the city in more than two decades. Since June, when the U.S. attorney's office announced that it would seek a federal death sentence for Perry, defense attorneys repeatedly challenged the decision in court. Hogan had rejected their arguments, however.
Last March, Perry, Tyrone LaSalle Price and Michael Anthony Jackson were indicted on charges of killing nine people as part of a continuing campaign to protect and promote their drug organization from 1989 to 1991. The indictment contended that Perry was involved in eight of the drug gang's nine alleged homicides. Three of the victims were women who had been cooperating with authorities investigating the organization, which allegedly was run by Albert G. "Alpo" Martinez, the indictment said.
According to the indictment, Perry, Price and Jackson worked for Martinez and were paid for the killings either in drugs or in cash. During the time of the drug conspiracy, prosecutors said, Martinez shipped more than 500 kilograms, or more than 1,200 pounds, of cocaine into Washington.
The trial of Price and Jackson, who were to be tried with Perry, is scheduled for Tuesday, Holder said.