At the end of a weeklong gang murder trial, two big questions faced the jury:
Trust the word of two “Big Homies” from the Bounty Hunter Bloods? Or figure the former gang captains would say anything just to get years sliced off their prison terms?
On Friday, a jury failed to find enough evidence or credible testimony to convict two accused gang members of murder. The panel acquitted Stefan Moses, 28, and Seth Reed, 26, of first-degree murder, armed statutory burglary and use of a firearm in the March 2007 home invasion and slaying in the Coleman Place neighborhood.
The 5-year-old murder was the latest case brought by prosecutors after investigations led by federal agents netted convictions against the biggest homies in the Bounty Hunter Bloods gang.
The gang built chapters across the city, committing several high-profile, violent crimes between 2004 and 2007, according to court records. Almost a dozen Bounty Hunter members were convicted in the 2007 mob beating death of James Robertson in Ocean View.
One gang leader estimated the group had between 300 and 400 members, mostly teens, before federal prosecutors indicted key members in 2008.
In court this week, once-powerful gang members testified the March 18, 2007, murder of Delandre Graham was a home invasion of a drug house that went wrong.
Joeseafors Reid, Big Homie of the Coleman Place chapter, told the jury that Moses proposed breaking into the home on the 3800 block of Davis St. to steal marijuana and cash. Reid, their supervisor, approved.
Late on a Sunday afternoon, Moses and Reed were driven to the home by another gang member, Reid testified. The two men kicked in the door and discovered Graham inside, Reid said the men told him.
Graham, 23, was found dead with two gunshot wounds.
Moses and Reed were driven away before police arrived, Reid testified.
Facing prosecution for serious crimes this year, Reid testified he took detectives to Colonial Place and showed them a section of the Lafayette River where he said Moses tossed two handguns used in the crime. Divers recovered a pair of deteriorating pistols, according to testimony.
Reid has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and a weapon offense in the crime. He testified that he broke the gang policy against cooperating with police because he hoped it would reduce his prison time. Reid is scheduled for sentencing in November.
Another senior Bloods captain, Marlon Reed, also testified that the defendants were gang members and committed the crime. Marlon Reed was sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison, and has cooperated in several cases. None of the Reeds are related.
Prosecutor Phil Evans said the gang members received no promises of leniency.
Defense attorney Eric Korslund argued that no evidence, including fingerprints, DNA or firearms, linked the defendants to the crime. The only link came from the gang members’ testimony, he said.
Added Reed’s lawyer, B. Thomas Reed, “They will say anything to go home…. Their penitentiary sentences are not measured in years; they’re measured in decades.”
Louis Hansen, 757-446-2341, firstname.lastname@example.org