Trial of five in D.C.’s South Capitol St. killings to open Tues.

Proceedings could take 2 to 3 months

The trial is set to begin Tuesday morning for five men accused in a series of violent attacks in D.C. that culminated in the so-called South Capitol Street massacre that left three dead and six others injured.

The men each face up to 54 criminal charges stemming from an eight-day spasm of violence in Southeast that includes a total of five homicides and nine non-fatal shootings in 2010.

The trial could last between two and three months, D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna Beck told the pool of potential jurors last week who were among the more than 200 people questioned before 12 jurors and five alternates were selected.

The length of the trial is due in part to the number of defendants. Attorneys for the defendants, Sanquan Carter, his brother Orlando Carter, Jeffrey Best, Robert Bost, and Lamar J. Williams, will each question the more than 100 witnesses that are expected to be called during the trial.

The mass shooting in the 4000 block of South Capitol Street, which targeted a group of young people returning from a funeral, was part of a back-and-forth gun battle that arose out of the theft of a bracelet, authorities said.

Jordan Howe, 20, was killed March 22, reportedly after a bracelet belonging to Sanquan Carter went missing at a party. Howe’s shooting prompted a retaliatory attack by his friends that injured Orlando Carter the next day.

That provoked Orlando Carter and the others to strike back with the March 30 attacks on South Capitol Street, authorities said. Many of those gathered at the location of the time of the shooting were returning from Howe’s funeral. The drive-by shooting on South Capitol Street claimed the lives of Brishell Jones, 16, Davaughn Boyd, 18 and William Jones, 19. An additional fatal shooting on nearby Galveston Street just before the drive-by killed 17-year-old Tavon Nelson.

Each of the five defendants in the case faces a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

On the same day the trial begins, the D.C. Council is set to debate legislation spawned from the mass shooting. The South Capitol Street Memorial Amendment Act of 2012, which seeks to address youth truancy and behavioral health issues that could lead to violence, will be before the council’s Committee of the Whole for discussion.

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