A new Washington, D.C., law that targets gang violence is being tested in Superior Court as a jury hears evidence in the 2008 shooting death of a man who prosecutors say was killed in retaliation by a rival gang, reports the city’s Post. Prosecutors say members of the Todd Place crew orchestrated the fatal shooting of Gary O. English, 33, who was allegedly associated with the rival T Street. Five men are charged with murder, assault and conspiracy, along with 10 counts each of violating the new gang statute.
In addition to securing a conviction for those responsible for English’s killing, prosecutors say they are also hoping to send a message to the District’s neighborhood crews–many of whom deal in drugs, guns and violence–that prosecutors have a new weapon in their effort to secure longer prison sentences for such individuals. Four years ago, the D.C. Council gave prosecutors an additional tool when it passed the criminal street gang statute, which makes it unlawful for individuals who belong to a street gang to “knowingly and willfully participate in any felony or violent misdemeanor” for the benefit of the gang. The statute carries a maximum sentence of five years.