CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Three people who were charged in connection with the October 2014 killing of a business couple in Lake Wylie appeared before federal court on Monday.
Deputies say 61-year-old Debbie London and 63-year-old Doug London were found shot to death in their Tioga Road home on October 23, 2014. The couple's son, Daniel London, found the couple and called 911. After an FBI raid of Charlotte's UBN, 12 defendants were charged in a racketeering operation conspiracy.
Six members of the United Blood Nation were charged in the killing of the Londons, according to a federal indictment. According to the district attorney, the six gang members were sentenced to terms ranging from 13 years to life in prison.
Nana Adoma, Randall Hankins and Ahkeem McDonald appeared in federal court on Monday where they were sentenced on charges of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity and murder.
McDonald and Adoma also are on trial for the murder of Kwamne Clyburn, a homeless teenager who was executed in a southwest Charlotte park in 2013. Adoma was also one of the three gang members who attempted to rob the Londons' store, prosecutors say.
Adoma was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences and 25 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy; murder in aid of racketeering and use or carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death for Clyburn's murder; assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering; and use or carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and possession of firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence for his role in the armed robbery of the Londons' business.
McDonald was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences following his jury conviction of RICO conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and use
or carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death for Clyburn's murder.
In January 2018, McDonald was sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to "conspiracy and murder in aid of racketeering charges in connection to the Londons' murder."
The judge previously sentenced nine others for their involvement in the killings.
Hankins also received three life sentences. Hankins was also charged with two counts of murder in the aid of racketeering his roles in the murders of Doug and Debbie London in Lake Wylie back in 2014.
Both Adoma and Hankins requested a new trial and McDonald requested a motion for a new trial. The judge denied the trio's motions. The judge recommended all of the defendants to be incarcerated as close to Charlotte as possible.
The judge recommended substance abuse and continued education help for all the suspects. He also recommended mental health assistance for Adoma and McDonald.
All three defendants plan to appeal their convictions.
Hankins, Adoma and McDonald were the first to go to trial for a crime that sent tremors through the greater Charlotte community.
"I can't remember another example of that level of contempt for the law," says Anne Tompkins, who was U.S. Attorney at the time of the Londons' deaths. "It took violence to a level I had not seen before, and it was startling. ... It made me very frightened for a lot of people."
Hankins and McDonald were charged with racketeering murder in connection to the killings, along with multiple conspiracy and firearms violations.
Prosecutors have said the local members and leaders of the Bloods gang "operated according to a common set of Bloods' rules and participated regularly in gang meetings to discuss among other things, the commission of crimes such as robbery and murder."
Other leaders and members of the bloods gang have already entered guilty pleas in those cases. Police say when they arrested them and executed searches, they found books that detailed the pledge, code, and the oath all bloods take to live by the gang's rules and follow orders. Prosecutors showed jurors copies of the pages taken from those books - hand written by the gang members.
Jurors listened to excerpts of the defendants' Facebook pages and messages where they identified themselves as blood members and communicated with other known bloods. The jury also saw photos of the defendants with gang tattoos.
Two of the main conspirators in the case have already been sentenced to life without parole: Jamell Cureton, Adoma's brother, who was shot by Doug London during the robbery attempt and later gave the order for the couple's killing from his Mecklenburg jail cell; and Malcolm Hartley, the confessed triggerman who was better known inside the gang as "Bloody Silent."
Both Hartley and Cureton pleaded guilty to murder and other charges to avoid trial and a possible death penalty. At least one of the other defendants is expected to testify at the trial, which is expected to last at least another two weeks.
Their attorneys tried to persuade U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn to keep the jury from seeing the bloody photos from the shooting scene. Steve Potolsky of Atlanta, a member of Hankins' defense team called them "utterly unnecessary," "largely irrelevant" and designed only "to inflame the jury."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Gast told Cogburn that the photos would corroborate earlier testimony and show jurors how the Londons died. The judge agreed, ruling that the photos were not prejudicial and something the jurors should see.
One by one, the photographs of the Londons' bodies then flashed by on the computer screens of the jurors and the attorneys in the courtroom.