A 30-year-old District man, part of a ruthless drug gang that was adept at hunting down people who threatened its marijuana market, was convicted yesterday by a federal court jury of racketeering, drugs, weapons and nine murder charges -- the largest number of murder charges lodged against a single defendant in Washington, court officials said.
Samuel Carson was convicted before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson of committing the murders from 1989 to 1996. He faces life in prison without possibility of parole. He is to be sentenced Nov. 9.
The verdict brings one of the District's longest and most heavily guarded criminal trials -- of the K Street Crew -- closer to an end. The trial began in January and since it began deliberations, the jury has returned verdicts in piecemeal fashion. Four of Carson's five co-defendants have been convicted of various charges -- the last is still in court -- and some charges remain against one of those convicted. This is the jury's sixth week of deliberations.
Prosecutors have alleged that the gang built a lucrative marijuana business in the area of the 200 block of K Street SW, killing 18 people who were competitors. Its members also kidnapped and robbed to make money. The prosecution estimated that the group netted at least $14 million in marijuana profits.
"They were kidnappers. They were robbers and they were murderers," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Anjali Chaturvedi in her closing remarks to the jury last month.
"They did it for two reasons -- they did it to enrich themselves and attack their enemies," said Chaturvedi, who is trying the case with Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter R. Zeidenberg.
In 1993, one of the gang's original members, Wayne Perry, pleaded guilty to charges involving five killings and got life. But the organization still prospered under Perry's friend, Vincent Hill, prosecutors said.
Hill enlisted numerous lifelong friends, including co-defendants Samuel "Chin" Carson, Sean "Birdy" Coates, Jerome "Pimp" Martin and William "Draper" Sweeney, prosecutors said. He and Martin were convicted this month of murder, racketeering and drug distribution charges.
Jury deliberations continue today for Sweeney on murder, drug, weapons and racketeering charges. The jury also must decide on murder and weapons offenses for Coats.
Jackson permitted prosecutors to present grand jury testimony elicited from two witnesses who had been slain after they talked. One, Chrishaunna Gladden, was ambushed in 1996 as she left a party in Southeast Washington just four days before she was to testify against Martin. The other was Robert "Butchie" Smith, Sweeney's uncle, who was killed in 1997 after talking to police.
Carson was convicted of the first-degree murders of Maurice Hallman and Leonard Hyson in December 1989; sisters Teresa Thomas and Terita Lucas in 1991 (because he suspected Thomas, his former girlfriend, had given his AK-47 to a rival gang member); Anthony Fortune in 1991 (over turf); and Gladden on Oct. 5, 1996.
Carson also was convicted of murder in aid of racketeering in the slayings of Alonzo Gaskins, Darnell Mack and Melody Anderson on Nov. 17, 1996 -- all killed in Temple Hills, Md., after a botched robbery attempt. Of the nine killings, Carson was the triggerman in five -- those of Hyson, Fortune, Thomas, Lucas and Gladden -- and assisted in the rest, prosecutors said.