Demetrius Staten became a gang member after landing in prison. He was jumped in — beaten up by multiple gang members as an initiation ritual — for 21 seconds.
When released from prison in 2012, he converted to a new set: the Milla Bloods gang in Danville.
“I was out of tune with the other guys I was with in prison,” Staten testified in U.S. District Court in Danville on Tuesday of the reason for switching sets.
Staten, 28, was inducted into the Milla Bloods by its leader — Dashawn Anthony, who in February pleaded guilty in a parallel federal case to charges of racketeering and murder.
It was the 13th official day of Danville’s ongoing federal racketeering and murder trial concerning the Rollin’ 60s Crips, where its accused leader — Marcus Jay Davis — is the lone defendant. Seven co-defendants took plea deals following revelations that prosecutors didn’t hand over transcripts from multiple state special grand juries as required.
Staten now is the second person to identify Davis as the leader of the Rollin’ 60s, the first being former co-defendant Stevie Johnson, who testified Friday. Staten pleaded guilty to federal charges in November 2018 in the parallel federal case.
In his testimony, he described being allowed into the new gang by blessing, a type of non-violent initiation.
“You just take an oath and pray,” he testified.
He also described his time as a Milla Blood, specifically the bond the gang formed with the Rollin’ 60s after the failed ambush in 2016 of Philadelphia-born brothers Armonti Womack and Dwight Montel Harris, known as the “Philly Boys.” Though both survived the ambush, Harris, 22, was shot to death in Danville on Oct. 23, 2018.
Staten said the failed Philly Boys ambush began after Anthony received a phone call from an alleged gang member nicknamed “Bubba.”
“The Philly Boys was gonna rob him,” Staten testified.
Staten and others Millas armed themselves and drove over to the Southwyck Hills Apartments. When he arrived he saw “people in bushes.” Many of them were fellow gang members.
Bubba had hidden in the apartment of Ashley Tiana Ross — who pleaded guilty as a co-defendant of Davis and received probation — while others hid to spring the ambush. The plan was to use a female associate to lure the brothers into a kill zone.
“She was going to get out the way, so we could shoot them,” Staten said.
She was supposed to jump out of the way when she saw a laser from a gunsight aimed her way.
“Sadly, she got hit,” he testified.
Things changed after the ambush, with other Bloods sets concerned about the team up.
“The Billys ran with it and said we tied the flag,” Staten said, referring to the term used to describe a truce.
Tying the flag — a formal truce between rival gangs — is not allowed unless authorized by higher leadership.
“They ain’t like it,” Staten said of the other Bloods sets.
The Millas received phone calls and messages from other Bloods asking why they tied the flag, and telling them they don’t have the authority to commit those actions.
This only increased the bond formed between what normally would be two rival gangs and made many of them feel invincible.
“We was getting a little money,” he said of combining their criminal activity. “Trying to take over ... the city.”
Avent is a reporter with the Danville Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 797-7983.