Crime & Courts

Getaway driver in Londons’ killings pleads guilty to federal charges

Briana Johnson, 19, pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder and other charges, stemming from the shooting deaths of Doug and Debbie London last year.
Briana Johnson, 19, pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder and other charges, stemming from the shooting deaths of Doug and Debbie London last year.

A year ago, when a United Blood Nation gang member asked her if she was “ready for this Blood life,” Briana Johnson said yes.

Wednesday, the 19-year-old Concord resident – the daughter of a police officer – accepted the consequences of that decision.

Johnson pleaded guilty to murder and other charges for her role in the October 2014 killings of Doug and Debbie London. Prosecutors say the Lake Wylie, S.C., couple were gunned down in their home to keep them from testifying against three Bloods who tried to rob their mattress store.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Greene announced in court that prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against Johnson.

According to federal documents in the case, Johnson was a gang associate, known as a “Ruby,” as well as the girlfriend of Malcolm “Bloody Silent” Hartley, who’s accused of shooting the Londons. As such, she was on hand for the early planning by gang members to silence the couple.

New documents released with Johnson’s plea reveal that a month before the killings, gang member David Fudge told her that the hit on the Londons had gotten “a green light.”

Are you “ready for this Blood life?” Fudge asked Johnson, saying he might need her to drive Hartley somewhere “to bang a n*****,” an apparent reference to the Londons.

“I could do that,” Johnson replied, documents say.

She then attended a series of gang meetings to iron out final details of the plot. On Oct. 23, 2014, Johnson picked up Hartley at his Nevin Road home, then drove him a few miles to an apartment shared by fellow gang members, documents say. There, Hartley picked up a Jimenez Arms .380 pistol, wiped the bullets clean of fingerprints with a red bandana, then rode with Johnson to the Londons’ home.

After the killings, Johnson and Hartley drove back to Charlotte to get rid of the gun and celebrate the couple’s deaths with other gang members.

Under her agreement with prosecutors, Johnson pleaded guilty to two counts of murder to aid racketeering along with racketeering conspiracy. She also has promised to testify against other gang members. Johnson is the only known witness to the murder scene.

In return for Johnson’s help, prosecutors will drop two firearms charges originally filed against her and are expected to recommend a lighter sentence.

Johnson is the latest of six reputed UBN members or associates who have accepted plea deals. All have agreed to testify.

Charges remain against Hartley and five other alleged UBN members.

That includes Jamell Cureton of Charlotte, who prosecutors say ordered and planned the hit from his cell in the Mecklenburg County Jail, after he was shot by Doug London during the attempted robbery.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

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