Closing Arguments Begin in ‘G-Rod’ Murder Case

The murder of Jamal Coates is “not a case where there is someone that was shot in a dark alley and no one will ever be able to tell who did it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Gee said his closing arguments Wednesday. “This happened in broad daylight at one of the busiest intersections in DC.”

Prosecutors allege that Coates’s death was a part of 80 criminal counts committed by four men linked by their allegiance to a street gang known as “G-Rod” that operated near 14th and Girard Street Northwest.

Keir Johnson, Lester Williams, Robert Givens and Marcellus Jackson are charged with conspiracy, first-degree murder, obstruction of justice, assault, and weapons charges related to the deaths of Paul Jones, Sean Robinson and Coates.

But Johnson and Williams are the men responsible for Coates’s death, prosecutors say. They are charged with conspiracy, first-degree murder, assault with intent to kill, and several weapons charges in connection with Coates’s death.

On Sept. 28, 2010, Coates went to Ashley McRae’s funeral at the Walker Memorial Baptist Church, on 13th and V Street Northwest. After, at approximately 11:45 a.m., Coates sat inside his friend Phil Tompkin’s gold-colored Dodge hatchback with Miko Thompson as a large crowd of people exited the church.

The three men were waiting for a funeral procession to start when two men came up to the driver and passenger side windows and opened fire, according to court documents. Coates was shot several times and died from a bullet to the brain.

Thompson told jurors that he saw a man with a black t-shirt run to the driver’s side of the car, aim a gun towards Tompkins, “but the gun jammed”, Thompson said.

Then, Thompson said, the shooter “took off the safety and just started firing.” The scene was “chaotic”, with “around 10 shots” fired into the car.

“There are so many different descriptions of the shooters that you could come up with 15 different shooters that day,” Gee acknowledged, “But there were not 15 shooters,” Gee told the jury.

Donald Ebert Cook, 50, testified that he was working at the southeast corner of 13th and Euclid Street Northwest that day. Cook told jurors when he went out to add more money to the meter, he noticed that it sounded like someone “was firing a gun”. From his vantage, Cook say that he saw “some individual shooting into a car when you got to the end of the van”.

By the time he reached the end of the van, Cook said that he “could tell exactly what was going on”. Cook told jurors that he saw the left side of the shooter coming from the back of a car to the front of the car. The shooter used a black semiautomatic, Cook said, explaining that he observed the gun’s type and color because he owns many guns and shoots frequently.

Cook said that he didn’t notice anything covering the shooter’s face. The shooter was about 5’10”, Cook said, wearing a black shirt with designs and a baseball cap.

Leslie Hall testified that she saw a shooter on September 28, 2010, from the second story window of her building. Hall said she heard “about eight” shots, but the first shot is what drew her to the window. The shooter that she saw appeared to be a slim person wearing a white hood, she said, and his face was covered by a black bandana.

“People in a confusing situation see different things,” explained Gee during his closing argument to the jury.

Gee is scheduled to continue his closing arguments Thursday.

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