A federal jury yesterday convicted two men of murder and conspiracy to murder in the execution-style killing of an inmate at the Lorton correctional complex.
The jury deliberated five hours before finding Edward Ford, 32, of Alexandria, and Germain P. Stoddard, 24, of Northwest Washington, guilty of slipping into the prison with three other men to kill prisoner Douglas M. Boney, 35, in revenge for the breakup of a Washington drug ring.
"I feel great," snarled Ford to reporters as U.S. marshals led him from the federal courthouse in Alexandria after the verdict.
"An innocent man got convicted," yelled Stoddard, as he was placed in a car by officials. "With an all-white jury, what did you expect?. . . . You only get justice with a colored jury . . . I'll be back, and next time I'll take the stand," he said, shaking his head and blinking back tears.
Both defendants are black. Neither Stoddard nor Ford testified.
Jury foreman James W. Kelly handed up the verdict forms at 6:15 p.m., only 45 minutes after the jury had asked Judge Robert R. Merhige whether it should deliberate into the night and requested snacks be sent to the jury room.
When the verdicts were read, Stoddard fell forward at his table, bracing himself with his arms. Ford turned around and smiled at friends and relatives, some of whom were weeping loudly.
Prosecutors later declined to comment. The defense attorneys have said they will appeal.
Each man faces a mandatory life sentence on the murder convictions and a sentence of up to life in prison on the conspiracy counts. Merhige did not set a date for sentencing yesterday.
The chief witness against them was admitted accomplice John Elbert Landon, 30, who pleaded guilty to assault with intent to murder in the case. Landon spent two hours on the stand Wednesday describing the drug war he said had developed between Ford and Boney, and Ford's desire for revenge.
Defense attorneys attempted in closing arguments yesterday to minimize the impact of Landon's testimony against the two men prosecutor Karen P. Tandy had called "calculating, cold-blooded murderers."
Stoddard's attorney, Alfred D. Swersky, hammered away on the operation of whether his slightly built client knew the purpose of the predawn trip, and whether Stoddard had gone into the dormitory once they had reached the minimum security area. Under Merhige's instructions, intent and premeditation were essential elements of the murder and conspiracy charges.
"Stoddard was never present when Landon and Ford talked about [killing] Boney" before the trip, Swersky said. "And once he realized what was going to happen he ran away from Dormitory 16 and waited at the car. He may have used poor judgment in going to the jail . . . but he's not a calculating cold-blooded murderer," Swersky concluded.
Ford's attorney, Thomas Rawles Jones, urged the all-white jury of six men and six women to "consider the possibility that Landon had decided to tell Miss Tandy what she wanted to hear . . . Can you believe Landon?" Jones asked. "I've never seen a witness keep a smirk on this face longer than Landon," Jones said.
The verdicts on the third day of the trial ended one of the most sensational murder cases in the Washington area.
Five men -- including two still at large and publicly known only by nicknames -- crept through the muddy underbrush of the D.C. Corrections Department's Lorton facility early May 23, intent on murder, prosecutors said.
At least four of the men burst into Dormitory 16 at 3:15 a.m. carrying four pistols and a shotgun between them, Landon had testified.
One of the intruders yelled, "We're from the Islamic Center. We're looking for two snitches, Boney and John D." The latter was later identified as convicted heroin dealer John D. Irby, also a Lorton inmate.
Amid screams of fear and the clanging of locker doors as some of the four dozen prisoners dove for cover, the men swept through the building kicking beds and threatening inmates and guards, the court was told.
Ford held a shotgun to the neck of guard Henry L. Brown, and threatened to kill him unless Boney was located, Brown testified.
Moments later a shot rang out in the dark, and someone, apparently the man known only as "Scoobie," yelled that he had shot Boney.
According to the dramatic testimony, Ford then stood over Boney outside the dorm and twice fired a .38-caliber pistol at him at point-blank range. Ford also pistol-whipped Boney more than a dozen times on the head, Landon testified.
Boney "sounded like a chicken, dying," Landon testified.
One unanswered question concerns the role, if any, played by D.C. Corrections official Robert (Pappy) Gault in the narcotics ring prosecutors say runs between the District of Columbia and its prison facility 20 miles to the south.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Aronica said in opening arguments that Gault was a link in the case, but did not elaborate. Gault has never been charged.
After the trial, federal prosecutors declined to comment on Gault and refused to say whether they know the whereabouts or identities of the two suspects, known only as "Scoobie" and "R-3", also believed to have participated in the Lorton murder plot.