- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Curious onlookers yesterday were banned from the sixth floor of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse, where 250 D.C. residents lined up and jury selection began for the city's first death-penalty case to go to trial in 30 years.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth had 60-page questionnaires prepared for the prospective jurors, 12 of whom will decide if Tommy Edelin, 32, led the One-Five Crew drug ring and ordered the murders of 15 persons interfering or competing in his drug empire in Southeast.

Tight security is being imposed because of the One-Five Crew's notorious reputation. The indictment, for instance, charges Mr. Edelin with trying to arrange the murder of his father, Earl Edelin, 50, because the son suspected him of cooperating with police.

Although he alone is facing the possibility of the death penalty, Mr. Edelin, also known as Tommy McEachin, is on trial with his father and four others, accused of 103 crimes ranging from conspiracy to murder.

Also on trial are Bryan Bostick, Henry Johnson, Shelton Marbury, and Marwin Mosley.

The One-Five Crew was identified as one of the most pervasive drug operations in the District in January 1999, when more than 250 city police officers and FBI agents raided 20 residences in Oxon Hill and the Stanton Dwellings housing complex near 15th Place SE where the One-Five Crew got its name.

Each prospective juror is to be questioned individually, and even the prosecutors and defense attorneys will not learn their names. If 12 jurors and six alternates are not selected from the 250, about 500 other residents will be called.

The selection process is expected to take three or four weeks. The trial is expected to last as long as 18 weeks, until the end of July.

If Mr. Edelin is found guilty, the jury then would begin a second phase to decide if he should be executed.

Executions have been prohibited under D.C. law since 1992, but executions are now allowed under federal law.

The city's last death-penalty trial was held in 1972, when Anthony "Tony" Lee was convicted of murder. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed the death penalty saved Lee's life.

Robert E. Carter was executed in 1957 for killing a D.C. police officer.

Mr. Edelin has maintained that he is innocent, claiming he changed his life style from crime to becoming a musician, operating a recording studio and organizing neighborhood social gatherings.

But the indictments say he led an "enterprise" that began in 1985 to obtain and distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana. The dealings, killings and attempted killings occurred mainly in the District, but evidence and witnesses will testify about illegalities in Suitland, Oxon Hill, Forestville, Clinton and Waldorf, Md.

Even after he was jailed, Mr. Edelin is accused of trying to arrange the murders of potential witnesses.

Judge Lamberth has ruled that the defendants will wear "stun belts" beneath their clothing. U.S. marshals can press electronic buttons that would stun the defendants if they disrupt the court.

The indictments state that the death penalty is appropriate because Mr. Edelin has a "long-term pattern of violent criminal conduct," continually tried to obstruct justice, threatened and had witnesses killed, was a leader in planning and encouraging others to take up crime, "demonstrated low rehabilitative potential" and has a "lack of remorse for his criminal activities."

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