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All 5 guilty in South Capitol Street massacre

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

A D.C. Superior Court jury on Monday found all five men guilty of murder in a series of shootings that left five young people dead and nine wounded over an eight-day period in 2010.

The violence started over a piece of costume jewelry, setting off a chain reaction of revenge and culminating in the mass shootings on South Capitol Street, the city's deadliest episode of street violence in decades.

"It's no secret, this is one of the worst things I've seen in 22 years here, and I hope to never see anything like it again," D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said Monday.

Convicted of five counts of first-degree murder and other crimes were Orlando Carter, 22, Jeffrey D. Best, 23, and Robert Bost, 23. Sanquan Carter, 21, was convicted of 15 counts -- including the killing that triggered the massacre. Lamar Williams, 23, was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder and other charges.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna Beck and the jury foreman took about 45 minutes Monday to read the more than 200 counts against the five defendants.

The first four defendants were found guilty on all charges.

When it came to the fifth defendant, Williams, the jury foreman began by returning 16 "not guilty" verdicts. Williams gave a small fist pump and tried to suppress a smile. His expression darkened as the juror then reeled off 28 guilty verdicts, including for murdering three teens.

Orlando Carter, Best and Bost face life in prison with no possibility of release. Sanquan Carter and Lamar Williams could be sentenced to prison for the rest of their lives. Sentencing for all five men is scheduled for Sept. 11.

"I hope that the day they get sentenced, they will never see the streets again," said Diane Howe, mother of 20-year-old murder victim Jordan Howe.

The violence began March 22, 2010, with the shooting death of Howe and the wounding of two other partygoers over a shiny bracelet that Sanquan Carter said was stolen from him. That was followed by a retaliatory shooting the next day against Orlando Carter, and ended March 30 with the shooting into of a crowd that had gathered on South Capitol Street on the evening of Howe's funeral.

Four teens were killed that night: Tavon Nelson, 17; Brishell Jones, 16, Davaughn Boyd, 18, and William Jones, 19.

The trial took 2 1/2 months, featured more than 100 witnesses and more than 1,000 exhibits. The jury deliberated over eight days.

Jurors said they were skeptical of the government's star witness, Nathaniel Simms, who tearfully admitted to firing an AK-47 into the crowd at South Capitol.

Instead they said they relied on the mountain of evidence, including DNA, videos, eyewitness accounts, and records of the rental van used in the drive-by shooting.

Norman Williams, the muscular father of Jordan Howe, said he had to calm himself during parts of the trial.

"When you lose a child, a lot goes through your head, you want to do wrong for wrong," Williams said. "[The verdicts] won't undo what they did to those children, but this shows the justice system works."

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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