5 men get long sentences for revenge killings in Southeast

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Five men convicted of a series of retaliatory shootings in March 2010 that killed five and injured another nine people in Southeast Washington were handed lengthy prison terms Tuesday, with three of the men sentenced to life in prison with no opportunity for release.

During the sentencing in D.C. Superior Court, some survivors of the South Capitol Street shootings and family members of those who were gunned down asked for justice or wished for vengeance as they spoke in court.

Others just asked why.

“I just want to know why you did it,” said Michelle Nelson, mother of Tavon Nelson, one of the five killed during the eight-day span of violence. “What did he do that was so bad you had to kill him?”

From the five defendants — brothers Sanquan and Orlando Carter, Jeffrey Best, Robert Bost and Lamar Williams — they got no answers. But some said they got at least a small opportunity for closure.

“I don’t want to keep fighting you all in my dreams no more,” said victim Tavon Lambert, who sobbed as he spoke. “I can go to bed now, and I can sleep now that you all are gone forever.”

Judge Ronna Beck sentenced Orlando Carter, Best and Bost to life in prison without parole. Sanquan Carter was sentenced to 54 years and Williams to 30 years in prison. In deciding the sentences, Judge Beck said she reviewed each man’s criminal history as well as the role each played in the three separate shootings.
Nathaniel Simms also was involved in the shootings but pleaded guilty and testified against the men at trial. He will be sentenced in October.

The March 30, 2010, mass shooting in the 4000 block of South Capitol Street, which targeted a group of young people returning from a funeral, was the culmination of a back-and-forth gun battle that arose out of the theft of a fake gold bracelet, authorities said.

Jordan Howe, 20, was killed and two others wounded in a March 22 shooting outside an apartment at 1333 Alabama Ave. SE. During a small party there, Sanquan Carter took off the bracelet while having sex with a girl.

A friend of the girl’s took the jewelry and when Sanquan Carter couldn’t find it, he called his brother for backup.
Orlando Carter, Simms and Best went to the party and opened fire with several guns, some of them obtained from Williams. Howe’s shooting prompted a retaliatory attack by his friends that injured Orlando Carter the next day.

Sanquan Carter was in jail by that time, but the attack on his brother 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 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 III, 19. Best and Bost also fatally shot 17-year-old Tavon Nelson as they attempted to obtain yet another gun for the planned drive-by shooting.

“A lot of violence in this city results from someone feeling disrespected and having access to a firearm,” Judge Beck said Tuesday. “This is how this terrible tragedy started.”

Though Sanquan Carter was involved only in the first shooting, Judge Beck noted it was the fact he “had so little regard for human life” that he wanted to shoot someone over a “trinket” that kicked off the violence.

Williams was not present for any of the shootings, yet Judge Beck said he was culpable because he provided weapons that he thought would be used for revenge.

Williams maintained his innocence when he addressed the court Tuesday.

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