Crime & Courts

Charlotte gang linked in court to another killing

Ronald Martin’s killing in 2012 appears to have become part of the federal investigation into a Charlotte gang.
Ronald Martin’s killing in 2012 appears to have become part of the federal investigation into a Charlotte gang. The Martin family

The alleged members of a Charlotte gang already have been charged with three killings.

Now there could be a fourth.

On Monday, federal prosecutors for the first time said the unsolved murder of a man described in court as “Mr. Martin” is now part of their case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Greene told U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn that evidence from Martin’s killing has been turned over to the defense attorneys of a dozen suspected members of United Blood Nation accused of murder and other crimes in a sweeping federal indictment.

While Greene gave no more details in court, the latest victim is believed to be Ronald Martin, 20, who was fatally shot on April 30, 2012. Martin’s killer has never been charged, and his death has been included on Charlotte-Mecklenburg police’s unsolved cases list.

It’s unclear whether this new information will lead to new charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined further comment.

Prosecutors and the FBI have tied the suspected UBN members to the killings of Doug and Debbie London, a Lake Wylie, S.C., couple shot in their home in October 2014. Prosecutors say the couple was gunned down to keep Doug London from testifying against three gang members who tried to rob the Londons’ mattress store.

Two of the gang members in court on Monday also have been charged in the August 2013 execution-style slaying of Kwamne Clyburn, a homeless teenager found in Pressley Road Park.

Martin was shot multiple times on April 30, 2012, on the front porch of his home on Billingsley Road. Years earlier, his mother Patsy Martin was in an Observer story, talking about the dangers of raising then-toddler Ronald in the neighborhood.

In middle school, Ronald Martin began sliding more and more into trouble. “I always asked him what he wanted to do,” she told the Observer in 2012. “I told him he was going to jail or hell.”

On the night of his death, the mother said she heard gunshots and found her son slumped on the porch, on the phone with a 911 operator. He died as paramedics tried to save him.

Martin’s name was linked to the federal UBN case during an hour-long hearing over evidence sought by defense attorneys for UBN defendants Jamell Cureton, Malcolm Hartley and Ahkeem McDonald.

Prosecutors say Cureton ordered the hit on the Londons from the Mecklenburg County Jail. Hartley, they say, was the triggerman. Cureton and McDonald are both accused of the murder of Clyburn. All three defendants were brought into the courtroom under heavy security.

The government has announced that it will not seek the death penalty against McDonald. Prosecutors have not made the same announcement for Cureton and Hartley. However, Cureton and Hartley’s attorneys, Rick Winiker and Rob Heroy, respectively, are expected to appear before a Justice Department committee next week charged with recommending whether the pair should face the death penalty.

Attorneys familiar with the process say the hearing indicates that U.S. Attorney Jill Rose or her staff, is seeking capital punishment.

During the hearing, Heroy and Winiker asked the judge to order prosecutors to release any remaining evidence they have that might help them better prepare for trial and next week’s hearing. In particular, they wanted full copies of certain documents that have been redacted, and any additional government evidence that would mitigate their client’s guilt.

Greene and co-prosecutor Don Gast told Cogburn that the government already has turned over more than 30,000 pages of documents along with 90 computer discs of information. Greene said the evidence also includes FBI reports, search warrants, among a long list of other categories.

One of the last examples mentioned: an “unsolved murder case.”

Cogburn said he’d rule after reviewing the evidence the government has not yet shared.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS