- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

A slight smile, one that could be described as relieved but sad, flickered across the face of the usually stoic Tommy Edelin yesterday when 11 U.S. District Court jurors announced unanimously that he would not be executed.
Instead, he was sentenced to life without possibility of parole.
The ruling brought to an end the six-month trial of Edelin and five co-defendants, including his father, Earl "Tony" Edelin, for 14 murders, conspiracy, racketeering and drug dealing in Southeast during the 1990s. The co-defendants also face life in prison without parole.
The jury minus a member who was hospitalized Monday decided on the sentence because Edelin was himself a victim of a deprived, depraved childhood in the crime-ridden neighborhood in and around Stanton Terrace SE.
"This is not a happy day," declared William Kamwisher, one of three defense attorneys. "Tommy Edelin, if born in different circumstances, would have become an entirely different man, a good man."
"I didn't know anything about raising kids," Edelin's mother, Cecelia McEachin, said yesterday, repeating much of her testimony from last week in an effort to save her son from death.
Tommy Edelin was born in 1968, the result of a one-night sexual affair, she said. She also admitted to being a convicted and jailed drug addict, leaving her son to care for his two half-sisters and two cousins.
Despite growing up amid addicts and criminals, Edelin never indulged in drugs, smoked tobacco or even drank beer, according to all witnesses during the trial and death-penalty proceedings. But, by directing drug deals, Edelin was a millionaire by the time he was 18, several witnesses claimed.
Assistant U.S. attorneys sought the death penalty for the Nov. 21, 1993, murder of Maurice "Reesy" Doleman, 19, who also lived in Stanton Terrace. Witnesses said Edelin had Mr. Doleman gunned down because Mr. Doleman had robbed an Edelin underling of $1,500. Although Edelin searched for Mr. Doleman once, he never attempted to kill or killed any of the victims, according to evidence.
The last death-penalty trial in the District was in 1972, but the execution was not carried out because the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed death penalties that year. The last execution in the District was in 1951. In 1992, D.C. residents voted to abolish capital punishment. Edelin's was a death-penalty trial under federal law.
"We absolutely thought the death penalty was appropriate," said U.S. District Attorney Roscoe C. Howard Jr., adding "we certainly are disappointed" by the jury's decision because some crimes merit death sentences.
"When we think the death penalty is appropriate, we will seek the death penalty," he said, referring to the upcoming March 1 trial of a 17-member Southeastern drug gang, led by Kevin L. Gray and Rodney Moore, that is accused of more than 40 killings.
Teisha Hines, 24, Edelin's half-sister, was in the packed courtroom yesterday. She had testified that Edelin helped her get a high school and college education the only one in the family.
"It's very hard for me. Life in the penitentiary will be harsh, but at least he will be alive," Ms. Hines said.
"The facts of this case were not a death-penalty case," said defense attorney Pleasant S. Brodnax III. "Tommy Edelin never shot anybody, never killed anybody."
"Tommy has lived a very emotionally controlled life," said defense attorney James W. Rudasill Jr., who quoted his client after the decision as saying, "I'm still facing life without possibility of release. I'm an innocent man."

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