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Suspects in drive-by ordered held

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Friday ordered three of the five suspects in last month's deadly drive-by shooting held in jail until their trials, despite attempts by the men's lawyers to raise questions about the credibility of the government's key witness.

Judge Michael L. Rankin listened to nearly two hours of testimony by the lead detective in the case before ordering Robert Bost, 22, Jeffrey D. Best, 21, and Lamar Williams, 22, held.

The detective testified about three separate, but related shootings — including a drive-by on South Capitol Street SE — that left five people dead and eight wounded in one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the District in years.

Another suspect, Orlando Taylor, 20, had been ordered held at a previous hearing. All four men are charged with multiple counts of first-degree, premeditated murder.

Homicide Detective Oliver Garvey detailed the events of the shootings, based primarily on the account of a fifth suspect in the shootings, Nathaniel D. Simms. Simms, 26, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a possible lighter sentence.

On Thursday, Simms pleaded guilty to five counts of second-degree murder while armed as part of an agreement with prosecutors. Simms, who admitted shooting an AK-47 rifle into a crowd during the drive-by that killed three bystanders, faces 25 years to life in prison unless authorities reduce his sentence.

On Friday, attorneys for Williams, Best and Bost spent much of the hearing questioning the motive and authenticity of Simms’s account. Attorneys also cited Simms’s previous convictions, including one for drug possession, as evidence of his lack of reliability.

Bost’s attorney, Todd Baldwin, asked Garvey if Simms ever admitted to having any fights or disagreements with Bost. Garvey said there had not been any. “Mr. Simms was just providing what occurred over those several days,” Garvey answered.

Under cross examination by Best’s attorney, Michael O’Keefe, Garvey said he failed to mention during earlier testimony that a girlfriend of Best’s said that he was at her apartment at the time of the shootings.

Williams’s attorney, John Carney, said Simms never said Williams was at any of the shootings, only that his client provided a couple of the guns that were used. Carney added that unlike Best and Bost, who had convictions for either gun or drug possession, Williams had no previous felony convictions.

Rankin was unmoved and ordered the three held.

Simms told detectives that the first shooting occurred the morning of March.22 after Carter’s brother said he was missing a bracelet after a party. One party-goer was killed.

The second and third shootings occurred March 30. Simms told authorities that the group planned to rob Tavon Nelson, 17, of his gun. Nelson was standing outside his apartment complex on Galveston Street SW when he was shot and killed. Moments later, the five men, wearing “black ninja-type masks,” drove to South Capitol Street, where Simms pointed the AK-47, Bost fired a .45-caliber pistol and Best fired a 9mm semiautomatic pistol at the crowd, killing three.

-- Keith L. Alexander

By Washington Post editors  |  April 30, 2010; 2:50 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Homicide , Keith L. Alexander , The District  
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These guys don't waste any time ruining their lives do they. What exactly did they get out of this?

Stupid people are breeding. Make 'em stop!

Posted by: uncivil | April 30, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

You know you've got to hand it to defense lawyers who raise questions about the credibility of the government's key witness.
I guess the fact that their clients were chased and apprehended by District police immediately after the shooting with the AK47 used in the shootings still in the car they were driving isn't enough evidence to hold them.
But you know, they could have been just driving past the group when the AK47, catching a ride with the suspects, opened fire before the suspects knew what was happening.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | April 30, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

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