Vice Lords gang members could face death penalty

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 at 1:30am

Four members of the Vice Lords street gang could face the death penalty when they go to trial next year as part of a massive 64-count federal indictment handed down in October.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Todd J. Campbell set an early February start date for the trial of eight local members of the violent street gang.

But the trial date could change depending on whether the U.S. Department of Justice decides to seek the death penalty for four gang members — Roger Wayne Battle, 28; Jessie Lobbins, 24; Christopher David Imes, 21; and Demarco Lewayne Smith, 23.

The U.S. Attorney's office and defense attorneys must submit arguments for and against the death penalty for each defendant, but the decision is ultimately determined by Attorney General Eric Holder's office.

The trial, which will be the culmination of a two-plus-year investigation by the Department of Justice, likely will focus on a string of retaliation crimes that quickly followed the Nov. 10, 2007 shooting death of gang leader Donnell Valentine at the Murfreesboro club, The Drink.

Following that incident, the Vice Lords, led by 28-year-old Roger Wayne Battle, reportedly set out on a wave of retaliation crimes, including four drive-by shootings in Murfreesboro that left four individuals shot — and one, Moss Mason Dixon, dead, according to police reports. The gang members are also charged with the murder of Brandon Harris.

Campbell said he did not want to set an “artificially quick” trial date that would force a “knee-jerk reaction” from the Department of Justice on the question of the death penalty. But, without a tangible trial date, the federal office can be slow to move on such questions, he said.

“The problem is getting a response from Washington,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the four defendants facing a possible death sentence, Battle's attorney Paul J. Bruno asked the court for a 2011 trial date so the defense would have the time needed to examine all the evidence and mount their submission to Washington.

Curtis Green, 28, who is not facing the death penalty, was the only defendant to object to the 2011 trial date request.

Green's attorney, Dwight E. Scott, said the later trial date would be a violation of his client's right to a speedy trial. He informed the court he planned to file appropriate paperwork for the objection.

Attorneys representing three other defendants not eligible for the death penalty — Lashandra Danielle Hightower, 26; Samuel Joseph Gaines, 22; and Delregus Alexander, 35 — did not object to the trial date.


15 Comments on this post:

By: TITAN1 on 12/30/09 at 5:21

Bring all known gang members in to watch them die!

By: wrglwright on 12/30/09 at 10:08

They need to air the execution on tv. Start frying more of them and maybe some of this will begin to stop.
Something needs to be done and soon.
I commend the Attorney General for his actions.
Until you become the victim of a Violent Crime such as murder your life is
never the same. good or bad person who is killed a family is never the same.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/30/09 at 10:52

wrglwright, would you get more of a sense of justice through death penalty than life in prison with no possibility of parole?

By: wrglwright on 12/30/09 at 11:26

blanketnazi2, have you ever been the victim of murder? honestly i think they should be dropped in the desert if they make fine if they don't oh well,save money on the easy life in prison,
Hell, 3 hots and a cot tv and work-out equipment to make them bigger and meaner.
What do you think the answer is?

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/30/09 at 11:44

wrglwright, i was being sincere when i asked. no, i haven't been the victim of murder and i did want your honest opinion. i care more about the victim and their families than the felon, for sure.

By: wrglwright on 12/30/09 at 12:32

thank you for that . I sincerly hope the brothers that shot my boy rot in prison!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/30/09 at 12:36

wrglwright, i do too. do you know of any local group that is already fighting for sentences to be filled? if so, i'd like to know about them so that i wouldn't feel like the lone voice out there.

By: wrglwright on 12/30/09 at 2:36

we are writing state reps to get the law changed to keep repeat felons in jail.
The 3 Strike law is too hard to attain. have to be agg. robbery, or agg. murder to qualilfy. My son was graduatng for an EMT. Two of the reps are EMTs so we are appealillng to them separately.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/30/09 at 3:37

i didn't know that about the 3 strike law. i will be penning some letters to the state reps asap. once again, i am truly sorry about your son. that should have never happened.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/30/09 at 4:08

wrglwright, i wish you a better 2010. thanks for chatting.

By: NGNG34 on 12/31/09 at 6:08

I believe when a gang member kills another gang member then no real crime has been committed. Savages join gangs in order to commit crimes and in doing so lose their right to seek justice via our court system just as a boxer does not have the right to have his opponent arrested for assault; he agrees to getting punched when he enters the ring. Every time one of these savages is put to death by another gang banger there is one less of them left to victimize honest, peaceful people.

By: sidneyames on 12/31/09 at 7:59

"Savages join gangs in order to commit crimes and in doing so lose their right to seek justice via our court system just as a boxer does not have the right to have his opponent arrested for assault; he agrees to getting punched when he enters the ring."

NGNG34 I'm sorry for anyone who loses a friend or loved one to violence. I am a death penalty advocate for certain cases.

I do have to disagree with your analogy of 'who" joins gangs. I believe that gangs recruit from normal people. They are looking for lonely, abandoned children who don't have love at home, family at home, discipline at home or any values at home. Much like Alcaida (Spelled wrong), they seek the weak.

And then there are the rich, privileged who think their parents owe the world something.

Afterr they are indocrinated into the gang, they then become "savages".

Just my take on it.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/31/09 at 8:39

I completely agree, sid. it's lonely, abandoned and often abused kids that are most at risk.

By: sidneyames on 12/31/09 at 10:22

Yeah, Blanket. And one just has to flip through the t.v. and catch MauryPovich, Jerry S pringer and the other guy to see where and who is being recruited.

Yesterday one guy had 6 kids with 4 women in 2 years. How gross is that? We need to have stricter laws on child bearing. In other words, the penalty should go to the baby daddy. If they father more than 2 kids, have no job, no education, no homelife, then they need to be snipped -- you know -- the neuter program for dead beats.

If a few of them got neutered, then maybe the word would travel and they'd start a new program for their bumping and thumping. (sorry to be so graphic, but I'm sick of welfare babies).

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/31/09 at 10:51

yeah, i can't even begin to think what the solution for that would be.....