- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2011

The person accused in the killing that sparked the “South Capitol Street Massacre” last year was released from jail two days before the death and was under the control of two D.C. agencies but had yet to report for electronic monitoring, court records show.

The whereabouts and custodial status of Sanquan Carter, a ward of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) and under the supervision of the Pretrial Services Agency at the time of the first killing, could prove critical to a multimillion dollar lawsuit accusing D.C. officials and agencies with gross negligence.

Court records and documents obtained by The Washington Times also show that while D.C. officials could potentially face legal exposure for some of the violence that occurred, the naming of the non-profit group Peaceoholics as a defendant in the lawsuit is more problematic.

Carter, 19, was released March 19, 2010, from D.C. Jail, where he awaited trial on charges stemming from an armed carjacking in 2009, court documents show. While he was being supervised by the Pretrial Services Agency at the time, which is an independent entity under the administrative umbrella of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), the records show he had been approved for placement at Peace Abode, a home for troubled youth run by Peaceoholics, under a DYRS and court-monitored “High Intensity Supervision Program.”

He was scheduled to report to Peace Abode on March 22, 2010, and was due back in court the following day for a status conference, the records state.

But on the night of March 21, 2010, Carter thought someone had stolen his bracelet at a Southeast Washington party and, according to the recently filed lawsuit, called his brother seeking revenge. The lawsuit said his brother, along with two associates, joined him after midnight at the party, where they opened fire on a group, killing 20-year-old Jordan Howe and injuring two others.

Although the lawsuit accuses Peaceoholics of negligent supervision of Carter, documents obtained by The Times show he was not received at Peace Abode until later in the day on March 22, 2010 — after the fatal shooting of Howe, and after Carter had reported for an electronic monitoring device in connection with his pending charges.

Police arrested Carter on March 23 and he has since been indicted in the Howe murder.

A retaliatory shooting of Carter’s brother occurred that same day, and a week later, on March 30, 2010, three people were killed in yet another retaliatory shooting, a drive-by shooting on South Capitol Street after the funeral for Howe.

Carter’s brother, Orlando, has been charged in the South Capitol Street shooting, which claimed the life of 16-year-old Brishell Jones, whose mother, Nardyne Jefferies, is now suing the city. On behalf of her deceased daughter, Ms. Jefferies says in her lawsuit the retaliatory shooting deaths on March 30, 2010, could have been avoided were it not for a “culture of action and inaction based on irresponsible judgment and decision making” by District officials.

Earlier this year, the D.C. Office of Attorney general said DYRS could have prevented Sanquan Carter from being released from jail in March, but it failed to do so.

The lawsuit names DYRS, CSOSA, the Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Pretrial Services Agency and the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, among others.

Peaceoholics Co-Founder Ronald Moten said Sanquan Carter did not report to Peace Abode until after he was fitted for an electronic monitoring bracelet, which occurred after Howe’s shooting. A “Resident Rights” form shows Carter signed in at Peace Abode on March 22, 2010. Mr. Moten denied that Peaceoholics had any contact with Carter prior to Howe’s death.

“Ms. Jefferies has every right and should sue the city,” Mr. Moten said. “This is a grave injustice. It’s just that someone gave her bad information about our role. We’ve since given her lawyer the correct information to address the situation.”

Mr. Moten said he expects Peaceoholics to be dropped from the lawsuit.

Ms. Jefferies could not be reached. Her attorney, John F. Mercer, did not return a call for comment.

But while Peaceoholics may eventually be off the hook, the D.C. agencies charged with negligence in their supervision of Sanquan Carter could have more to worry about.

Officials at DYRS did not return calls for comment. Cliff Keenan, spokesman for Pretrial Services, said he could not comment because “this matter is subject to litigation.”

In an email on Wednesday night, a spokesperson for Mayor Vincent C. Gray said, “While the District government expresses deep condolences to the family of Brishell Jones, another innocent victim of street victims, it bears no responsibility in her death. As such, the Office of the Attorney General, at the appropriate time, will move to dismiss this action.”

• Jeffrey Anderson can be reached at jmanderson@washingtontimes.com.

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