- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2011

A federal appeals court has upheld most of the felony charges against six members of a violent drug gang in Washington, D.C., that left 31 dead during the 1990s.

Attorneys for Kevin Gray, Rodney Moore and four other defendants serving life in prison had argued that prosecutorial misconduct, the use of stun belts during the trial and an anonymous jury, among other factors, kept them from getting a fair trial.

They also insisted that the testimony of notorious D.C. crack kingpin Rayful Edmond III, who became a government witness and testified against Gray and Moore, had no place during the trial.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday rejected most of the arguments in a 140-page opinion that concluded the litany of prosecutorial misconduct claims didn’t warrant reversal.

The appeals judges also rejected claims of racial discrimination by prosecutors during jury selection.

Gray and Moore were each sentenced to life in prison in 2005 after a jury split on giving them the death penalty after a trial that lasted 10 months. Gray was convicted of 19 murders, and Moore was convicted of 10 murders.

Among a host of issues raised on appeal, attorneys for the defendants argued that prosecutors introduced irrelevant and prejudicial evidence.

They said Edmond took the stand for two days, though a lot of what he said didn’t have much to do with the case against Gray, Moore and the other defendants.

Edmond, who was convicted in an earlier conspiracy case and is serving life in prison, testified about being interviewed by Diane Sawyer on national television and about the $100,000 Rolex he owned before he was arrested.

Chief Judge David B. Sentelle questioned why prosecutors put Edmond on the stand when attorneys argued the case in court earlier this year. But in its ruling, the court noted that still wasn’t enough to reverse the case.

“In light of the amount and strength of the evidence the government presented of the charged crimes, we find that any potential error was harmless,” the appeals court ruling stated.