Federal prosecutors in the cases against accused members of Danville’s Milla Bloods and Rollin 60s Crips have motioned to drop multiple use of a firearm charges against defendants. That could mean as many as 24 dropped charges across the two cases.
Filed May 31, the motion identifies four use of firearm charges — those connected to the attempted murders of Armonti Womack, Dwight Montel Harris, Justion Wilson and Tyliek Conway —across the two racketeering cases to drop. Government attorneys are seeking to dismiss those charges “for reasons related to judicial economy, prosecutorial resources and prosecutorial discretion,” the motion states.
Twenty defendants were charged across the two cases in connection to multiple attempted murders and the murder of Christopher Lamont Motley in 2016. Of those 20, eight have pleaded guilty to charges against them. Another defendant, who is charged in connection to many of the same events as the 20, also pleaded guilty.
Fights to dismiss charges have spanned the entire case, but one of the first motions to dismiss some of the charges the government now wishes to void came in January. Defense attorney Paul Beers argued that his client, Jalen Cormarrius Terry, should not face two charges of using a firearm because they lack predicate crimes of violence as based on reasoning laid out in a U.S. Supreme Court case. The two gun charges are based on two separate counts of assault with a dangerous weapon — termed VICAR crimes — counts that Beers contends are insufficient to warrant the gun charges against Terry.
“The question presented in [the Supreme Court case] was the same as the question presented here: Whether a count alleging the defendant committed a VICAR assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering qualifies as a crime of violence,” the motion states.
The prosecution did not agree with the argument in its motion but has moved to drop the charges anyway.
All told, 37 counts could be dropped, but 13 of those are against defendants who have already pleaded guilty across the two cases. Of the defendants who have yet to stand trial or plead guilty, 24 charges remain. All nine pleas — except Dashawn Romeer Anthony’s — were solely to one count of racketeering conspiracy. If defendants abide by the conditions of their plea agreements, multiple court papers state, the government will move to dismiss any remaining charges against them.
According to court documents, the charges that could be dropped stem from gang shootings, including Motley’s on Aug. 20, 2016. After allying with each other, the Millas and the Rollin 60s devised a plan to shoot and kill the leader of a rival Bloods-affiliated gang, called the Billys, court documents state. Anthony, who is accused of being ranking member in the Millas organization, called the rival gang members and antagonized them. Then, armed members of both gangs fanned out throughout the Southwyck Hills Apartments to set an ambush for the gang. They were targeting the Billy’s leader and second-in-command.
When a white van pulled into the parking lot, they opened fire from multiple directions, hitting and killing Motley, who was a passenger in the vehicle, according to court documents.
The Millas case is set for trial in Jan. 2020; the prosecution also intends to motion for it to be held in Danville. The Rollin 60s are scheduled for trial in October.
Whitlow writes for the Register & Bee. Contact him at (434) 791-7983.