CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va - Members of a street gang accused of abducting and murdering a reserve Waynesboro police officer are scheduled to go to trial in a Charlottesville courtroom Monday. Jury selection for members of the "99 Goon Syndicate" begins at 9 a.m. in Western District Federal Court.
The six men and women were arrested after reserve Waynesboro police officer Capt. Kevin Quick's body was found in February 2014 in a rural, timbered area near the Goochland County line. Prosecutors said four members of the gang kidnapped and murdered Quick “for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing position in the enterprise, an enterprise engaged in racketeering activity,” according to the federal indictment. The indictment spelled out a crime spree the gang carried out over the two years prior to Quick's death.
Online court records showed three of the nine suspects initially charged in the indictment entered guilty pleas. Daniel Mathis, Shantai Shelton, Mersadies Shelton, Kweli Uhuru, Halisi Uhuru, and Darnell Stokes will go to trial, court records show.
The 99 Goon Syndicate, which is an off-shoot of the Bloods street gang, is accused of committing a long list of felonies across Central and Western Virginia. The gang carried out armed robberies, assaults, and distributed narcotics, according to the indictment.
Authorities chose to charge gang members under a federal racketeering statue called RICO, an acronym for Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. Legal experts said prosecutors will present the jury with mounds of evidence relating to the alleged criminal enterprise.
"That makes a much more broad picture for a prosecutor and allows them to get evidence in that they might not otherwise be able to get in if this were just about the murder of Kevin Quick," CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said.
In certain legal circles, RICO cases are considered controversial because of how much power it gives prosecutors. Since they allege a pattern of criminal behavior carried out as a part of a larger conspiracy, experts said RICO indictments usually have a noticeable impact on juries.
Stone said defense attorneys are going to try to poke holes in the government's case, but will also question whether the 99 Goon Syndicate is actually an criminal enterprise.
"There may be legal arguments that, yes, they call themselves a gang, but in reality, this is what's required under the RICO statute, the defense is going to argue they may not meet those requirements," said Stone. Because of the amount of evidence and testimony that is expected, the trial could take several weeks.