Killers sentenced in London murders
Three-and-a-half years after Doug and Debbie London were executed in their home, the last of the Charlotte gang members linked to the killings have been sent to federal prison for the rest of their lives.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn handed down life sentences to convicted United Blood Nation members Randall "Foe" Hankins, Nana "Ratchet" Adoma, and Ahkeem "Lil Keem" McDonald. Three other gang members linked to the killings already are serving life sentences.
Hankins, according to federal prosecutors and the FBI, was a key planner of the gang's October 2014 shootings of the Londons, a Lake Wylie, S.C., couple whose Pineville mattress store had been the target of an attempted robbery by three UBN members that May.
Prosecutors say the Londons were gunned down to keep them from testifying against Adoma and another gang member who had participated in the robbery attempt. A federal jury convicted Hankins of two counts of racketeering murder last year in connection with the Londons' deaths.
At the same trial, Adoma and McDonald were convicted of the 2013 execution-style slaying of Kwamne Clyburn, a homeless teenager who was bound and shot seven times with two different weapons in Pressley Road Neighborhood Park. His offense: falsely claiming to be a Blood, which gang members consider a capital offense.
Adoma and McDonald also were convicted of gang-related offenses in the London shootings.
In all, a dozen UBN members have now been sentenced in the case. Nine pleaded guilty to avoid a trial and already serving sentences from 13 years to life.
Jamell Cureton, who ordered the Londons' deaths and helped plan the hit from his Mecklenburg jail cell, along with triggerman Malcolm Hartley both entered guilty pleas to avoid possible death penalties. Cureton also took part in the Clyburn killing, prosecutors say.
UBN has become North Carolina's largest and most influential gang, exerting their power from Charlotte-area neighborhoods to prison cell blocks.
Two alleged national leaders of UBN remain on trial this week in Charlotte, accused of running an East Coast criminal network from their New York prison cells.
The brazen level of violence behind the Londons' deaths sent tremors through both the court system and communities far removed from normal gang activity.
UBN members, according to authorities, took on a veritable mantra when discussing their plot against the Londons: "No witnesses, no case."
“I can’t remember another example of that level of contempt for the law,” veteran prosecutor Anne Tompkins, who served as U.S. Attorney in Charlotte when the couple was killed, said before the first sentencing in the case last year.
“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.”
Clyburn's death had remained unsolved until the FBI stumbled upon the gang's involvement in the agency's investigation into the Londons' deaths. In gang parlance, Clyburn was killed when he failed a "DNA check," meaning he could not prove gang membership.
“We had to roll the (expletive),” McDonald told other gang members after Clyburn’s killing, according to a prosecutor’s courtroom statements. “That s--t ain’t right."
In a Monday email to the Observer, a member of Clyburn's family thanked those who had identified and successfully prosecuted Kwamne Clyburn's killers.
"It has been a long journey ... Justice is being served," said the relative who did not want to be identified out of fear for his safety. "To the defendants, I love you and forgive you. I don't know why you did what you did, but I don't hate you."
Daniel London, who was downstairs when his parents were killed, said Monday that after a "long and arduous" process for his family, "I feel like we are finally coming to the end."
"My parents and myself believed and had faith in God," London wrote in an email to the Observer. "We see the destiny of all of this ... resulting in a major gang crackdown and reckoning for many others.
"Thank you to the Department of Justice and all those involved in ensuring that my parents received their due outcome of these proceedings."