After federal prosecutors and the defense team rested their cases Friday, a judge dismissed one count against the lone defendant in a federal racketeering trial that took a mandatory minimum life sentence off the table.
The jury is expected to hear closing arguments Monday and potentially begin deliberations.
Marcus Jay Davis — the accused leader of the Rollin 60s Crips — was originally indicted on 13 federal racketeering counts. One count, violent crime in aid of racketeering, related to the Aug. 20, 2016, shooting death of Christopher Lamont Motley, 33, in Danville, was dismissed Friday. This count had the mandatory minimum of life in prison.
On day 16 of the trial, Chief Judge Michael Urbanski ruled on a motion filed by Davis’ attorneys asking to dismiss multiple federal racketeering counts from the indictment in response to recent violations of discovery by Danville Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Newman. Discovery — the process where prosecutors have to turn over pertinent information in a defendant’s case — was due by April 1, but Newman’s office repeatedly found missing transcripts from prior state special grand juries long after April 1.
“It has been like pulling teeth to discover exactly what the Danville Commonwealth [Attorney] has produced in relation to gang violence in Danville,” Urbanski said Friday afternoon as he dismissed the one count.
Many of the seven co-defendants who took plea deals after the initial revelation of unknown state grand juries and missing transcripts came to light last month now face 15 years in prison as the maximum punishment instead of the initial threat of life behind bars.
On Tuesday night, another discovery violation was revealed when the judge learned a grand jury investigation thought to have ended in 2018 continued into this year. It was found that a May 14 grand jury had met to investigate the March shooting death of 17-year-old Hikeem King, and on Friday, it was discovered one of the grand jury witnesses also was a witness in Thursday’s testimony. In light of the previous violations, and the ones discovered Wednesday, Urbanski ruled to have one of Davis’ indictment counts dismissed.
On Friday morning, the government called two final witnesses before resting.
One witness was Scott McVeigh, a firearms and tool mark examiner with the Prince George’s County Police Department in Maryland. McVeigh discussed a pistol that was given to him by a Park police officer, and how he was able to compare that gun to spent shell casings found at the scene of a shooting in Danville.
After the jury returned from a morning recess, the defense was allowed to deliberate on what to do next.
“The defendant wishes to rest,” said Anthony Anderson, one of Davis’ attorneys, after not calling any witnesses.
Then, out of the presence of the jury, Urbanski addressed the decision of Davis to not testify and allowed the defense team to discuss the options again. With all of them whispering to each other, Davis spoke with both of his attorneys.
Suddenly Davis stood, with his lawyers behind him.
Urbanski then asked if Davis had decided whether or not to testify on his own behalf.
“Not to testify,” Davis answered, one of the few times he spoke aloud during the trial.
When the jury was called back in, nothing awaited them. The defense officially rested their case. Urbanski released the jury, letting them know they must return Monday and four alternates will be released.
Avent is a reporter with the Danville Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 797-7983.