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Feds charge 13, tie street gang to 19 murders over two decades

Prosecutors said the accused gang members charged in the latest indictment operated primarily out of Austin on the West Side, keeping “trap houses” to store guns and drugs, including cocaine and heroin. 

An assault rifle that police allegedly seized from Demond Brown on March 13, 2018.

Thirteen alleged members of the Wicked Town faction of the Traveling Vice Lords street gang face charges in a newly unsealed racketeering indictment that connects the gang to a stunning 19 murders over 20 years, including a cold-blooded murder-for-hire.

It’s the second notable street-gang indictment from federal prosecutors in less than three weeks. It also became public during closing arguments in the federal racketeering trial of Labar “Bro Man” Spann, the alleged chief of the Four Corner Hustlers.

Prosecutors said the accused gang members charged in the latest indictment operated primarily out of Austin on the West Side, keeping “trap houses” to store guns and drugs, including cocaine and heroin.

The feds said the multi-year investigation led to the seizure of 46 guns, about 1,000 rounds of ammunition, about 17 kilograms of cocaine, about seven kilograms of heroin and about 100 grams of crack cocaine.

All 13 people charged in the case are in custody, prosecutors said.

Charged in the case are Donald “Lil’ Don” Lee, 39; Deshawn “Tiny” Morgan, 39; Marquel “P” Russell, 44; Darius “Skudder” Murphy, 22; Torance “Blackie” Benson, 29; Davion “DayDay” Russell, 21; Deshon “D Mac” George, 28; Nashon “Bootie” Johnson, 42; Dante “DT” Dockett, 43; Demond “Loonie” Brown, 28; Victor “Ju” Turner, 30; Willie “Flocka” Gardley, 27; and David “Day Day” Arrington, 26.

Several of them could face the death penalty if convicted of certain murders listed in the indictment. Those murders took place between 2000 and 2020, and the list takes up more than two pages in the indictment.

The indictment alleges that:

• Lee murdered Lamont Ware on July 22, 2000.

• Lee and Johnson murdered Ernest Moore on Dec. 23, 2002.

• Lee murdered John Johnson on June 15, 2003.

• Brown and Benson murdered Ron Hernandez on Dec. 21, 2014.

• Brown murdered Abraham Cooper on Dec. 23, 2014.

• Gardley and Lee murdered Charlie Weathers on May 23, 2015.

• Turner and Lee murdered Malcolm Willie on July 15, 2015.

• Murphy, Brown and Lee murdered James Douthard on August 23, 2015.

• Murphy and Brown murdered Dan Rance on Sept. 2, 2015.

• Benson murdered Martel Howard on Jan. 21, 2016.

• Dockett and Russell murdered Derrick Jones and Stephen Tucker on Dec. 23, 2016.

• Murphy murdered Alfred Stovall on April 28, 2017.

• Murphy, Brown, Lee and Gardley murdered Kishaun Mobley on Dec. 23, 2017.

• Murphy, Brown, Gardley and Arrington murdered Uriah Hughes on Jan. 11, 2018.

• Morgan, Murphy and Brown murdered Donald Holmes Jr. and Diane Taylor on Jan. 31, 2018.

• Turner murdered Sammy Hodges on March 10, 2019.

• Arrington murdered Ronald Boyd on Aug. 22, 2020.

Morgan, Murphy and Brown were earlier charged in 2019 for the January 2018 murders of Holmes and Taylor. Prosecutors alleged that Morgan hired Murphy and Brown to kill the pair in exchange for $5,000 and an assault rifle. Holmes and Taylor were then killed inside Holmes’ 2017 Jeep Cherokee while it was parked in the 4700 block of Arthington Street.

Later that year, someone secretly recorded Murphy and Brown in the Cook County Jail discussing the killings. They said it happened because Morgan thought Holmes was working as a confidential informant for law enforcement.

Though Holmes had not been working with law enforcement at the time of his death, he had been a source for the FBI, according to a criminal complaint.

During the recorded conversation, Murphy explained that he shot Holmes after getting into the back seat of Holmes’ car. Taylor had been driving and Holmes was in the passenger seat when Taylor pulled the vehicle in front of Murphy’s home.

“I get in the back seat,” Murphy allegedly said. “Shoot that b---- in the back of his sh—. Pow pow!”

Then Murphy allegedly added, “his b---- tried to bail out. I grabbed her by the back of her wig. I said, ‘where you going?’ Pow pow! I hit her in her sh-- two times. Then I turn, hit him in his sh-- two more times. Pow pow!”