Fifteen months after Waynesboro Police Reserve Captain Kevin Quick was allegedly abducted and killed in a case that put a spotlight on the presence of gangs in Central Virginia, six people will stand trial on racketeering, murder and other charges in U.S. District Court.
The sprawling legal proceeding, which began with jury selection on Monday, May 4, could take up to six weeks, with court in session even on Saturdays. Convictions could result in life sentences for the four defendants charged directly with Quick’s death: Kweli Uhuru, and Albemarle County siblings Mersadies Lachelle Shelton, Shantai Monique Shelton and Daniel Lamont Mathis.
Two other defendants, Halisi Uhuru and Anthony Darnell Stokes, are accused of racketeering, narcotics distribution and obstruction of justice.
On January 31, 2014, Quick left his mother’s house in Nelson County on his way to visit his girlfriend and their infant daughter at the Turtle Creek Apartments on Hydraulic Road. He never arrived. According to the indictment, he was carjacked by some of the defendants, driven around as his abductors withdrew money from his account, and then murdered. He was found dead of a gunshot wound in the woods in Goochland County a week later, prosecutors said at a previous press conference.
According to a revised indictment filed in federal court, October 22, 2014, the six defendants facing trial are members of the 99 Goon Syndikate, a Central Virginia subset of the Bloods gang. From October 2013 to February 2014, the defendants allegedly committed a slew of crimes including robberies of stores and residences in Charlottesville, Albemarle, Louisa and Fluvanna counties, as well as the sale of cocaine and crack cocaine. But it was the alleged carjacking, robbery and slaying of Quick that elevated the charges against the four.
A trial of this scope under the federal racketeering law known as RICO is unusual in the Western District of Virginia U.S. District Court, according to C-VILLE legal analyst David Heilberg, who says the longest such trial he can recall lasted three weeks.
“We don’t often have four- or six-week trials in federal court,” agrees Brian McGinn, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia.
The four defendants charged with Quick’s murder could have faced the death penalty, but former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder removed the ultimate punishment option after reviewing the case, a decision Heilberg said could have been motivated by the expense of trying four individuals in a capital case.
Even without the death penalty on the table, the lengthy trial will be grueling for all parties, including witnesses, who will potentially be cross examined by six different legal teams.
Three other people originally charged in the case have accepted plea deals, something Heilberg said is likely in exchange for their cooperation as witnesses.