Eddie Wilson, 19, pleaded guilty last October to first degree murder, kidnaping while armed, rape while armed, armed robbery, burglary while armed, and arson. In fact, he pleaded guilty to 104 counts of these and related crimes.
On Monday, he came up for sentencing in D.C. Superior Court and told Judge Nicholas S. Nunzio, "I really have nothing to say, Your Honor. I'm just sorry it happened."
Whereupon Nunzio sentenced him to a minimum of 28 years and a maximum of 84 years in prison.
Having pronounced sentence, the judge made it clear that he would like to have made it longer, but he said he felt bound by statements he made the time of Wilson's guilty pleas that he would limit the lower range of the penalty to 24 to 28 years.
The minimum sentence is important under D.C. law because the minimum must be served before a prisoner becomes seligible for consideration for parole. This gives judges of the Superior Court substantial control over the least amount of time a prisoner must serve. By contrast, federal law states that federal offenders are eligible for parole consideration after of fenders are eligible for parole consideration after no more than 10 years even though their minimum sentences may be longer.
What changed Nunzio's mind about the adequacy of the 28year minimum, he told Wilson at sentencing, were details he learned about Wilson's crimes subsequent to his guilty pleas.
That selfimposed limitation, the judge said, "was the gibbest mistake I ever made. I didn't know then what I know now . . . You stabbed those (two people) just for the hell of it."
The two people in question were Curtis Arrington, 23, and Lois Ann Davis, 16. They were murdered Oct. 22, 1975, in an apartment at 1200 Delaware Ave. SW. Arrington had been stabbed 61 times and Miss Davis 43 times. According to court records, there was evidence that sexual acts had been performed on the girl following her death. The apartment subsequently was set on fire in an apparent attempt to conceal evidence.
Nunzio said he learned details of the killings - to which Wilson pleaded guilty - during the trial last month of Larry Hallman, 28, one of three other persons besides Wilson who were charged in the case. A mistrial was declared because of legal technicalities and Hallman, also known as Jack Bumps, is awaiting a new trial.
Like Wilson, Warren Peters, 20, also pleaded guilty last October to 104 counts, including the slayings of Arrington and Davis. He is awaiting sentencing. A third defendant, Raymond Paris, 18, was permitted to plead guilty to second degree murder (for which the minimum statutory penalty is 15 years) in return for his cooperation with prosecutors. Paris is awaiting sentencing.
Wilson, Peters, Paris, Hallman and Frank L. Henderson, 23, also are charged with crimes unrelated to the Arrington, Davis slayings that took place in October, 1975. They include rape, kidnaping, armed robbery, armed burglary and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
Since it is within the power of a judge to order sentences for different crimes to run consecutively, Nunzio could have fixed Wilson's minimum term at far more than 28 years. As it was, he gave him the statutory sentence of 20 years to life for one count of first degree murder and a consecutive sentence of 8 to 24 years for one count of armed robbery. This adds up to a minimum of 28 years.
According to indictments to which Wilson and Peters have pleaded guilty and other court records, they and their codefendants in cases other than the Delaware Avenue murders would operate in this way: they would approach motorists at gunpoint, force the drivers to take them to their homes, rob them, rape women who were present, tie up all victims and take the victim's automobile when they left. They then would sell the stolen goods and use the proceeds and any cash they may have robbed to purchase narcotics.
At Monday's sentencing, Leslie Fine, Wilson's attorney, told Judge Nunzio that his client was the eighth of nine children, that the only stabilizing influence in his life was an older brother who died when Wilson was 10, that he began taking narcotics when he was 11, that he is a functional illiterate who reads at a thirdgrade level and that his father is an alcoholic.
But Fine also said Wilson "has to be held accountable" for what he admitted doing.
So Wilson became another longterm prisoner in the corrections system. No one - not his attorney, not the probation officers who prepared his presentence report, not the judge - thought it should be otherwise.
Fine said later that not even Wilson was surprised at the penalty.