Probable Cause found in “Bad Drug Deal” Scheme at Lawrence Wilkerson’s Preliminary Hearing

A judge found probable cause Friday in the case against Lawrence Wilkerson in connection with the shooting death of Rhett Gelb.

On May 27, 2013, Gelb was found at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Hamilton Street Northwest next to a Cadillac Escalade. He died later at a local hospital.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberley Nielsen argued that Wilkerson’s actions were premeditated and he intentionally sold fake drugs to Gelb before killing him.

Wilkerson concocted this ruse of a drug deal, brought a gun, and created a way to get into Gelb’s vehicle to pull the trigger,” Nielsen said.

Charging documents in the case say Wilkerson shot Gelb during a drug deal after Gelb tried to pull one of his friends out of the car and away from Wilkerson.

Wilkerson, 41, is the second person arrested in the case. On December 24, Roger St. John was arrested on suspicion of felony murder while armed in Gelb’s death.

MPD Detective Joseph Della-Camera testified Friday that an unidentified witness, who has pleaded guilty in connection with Gelb’s death, identified Wilkerson as the “shooter” and told police the drug deal was a “ruse”.

According to the witness, the drugs were disguised as Oxycodone in a black bag and were going to be delivered by Wilkerson, Della-Camera testified.

Wilkerson’s defense attorney, Dorsey Jones, argued that the prosecution’s witness was not credible and was in possession of the money taken from Gelb, and that the unidentified witness didn’t mention Wilkerson until after being arrested by police.

The witness is not credible and was found with over $400 taken from Rhett Gelb and failed to implicate Wilkerson until charged with felony murder,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey also argued that other witnesses in the case hadn’t identified Wilkerson as the “shooter” in an array of photos and said “They all look too old; it was a younger guy”.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nielsen argued that the witness has been truthful in everything else and that it has no reason to lie.

Wilkerson will remain held in the case. A felony status conference is scheduled for September 19 before Judge John Ramsey Johnson at 11:00 a.m.

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