Plea Deal Offered to Three in Howard Theatre Stabbing

Preliminary hearing continued to July 9 as defendants' attorneys consider offer

This morning, three co-defendants accused of stabbing a 16-year-old male three times while yelling homophobic slurs at him had their preliminary hearing continued to Monday, July 9, after Assistant U.S. Attorney Jin Park announced that the government had offered the three a plea offer.

The attorneys for the three – Camilla Hsu representing Ali M. Jackson, Mani Golzari for Alvonica Jackson, and Bernard Crane for Desmond Raimon Campbell – asked for a continuance so they could consider the plea offer. All three defendants, who each face one charge of assault with a dangerous weapon, remain held without bond.

According to charging documents, witnesses told police that the three had approached the victim from behind in the 600 block of T Street NW while making homophobic comments directed at him. Witnesses told police that Campbell then held the victim in a headlock, assisted by Alvonica Jackson; and that Ali Jackson then stabbed the victim once in his left bicep, once in his lower back and once in his left leg.

During the struggle, the teenage victim produced a can of pepper spray and sprayed all three suspects, who then fled the scene. The victim was later transported to Howard University Hospital, where he was treated for his wounds.

At the same time, three members of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Third District Crime Suppression Team had been canvassing the area around the Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW, for a robbery suspect wearing a gray shirt. The officers saw Ali Jackson, dressed in a gray shirt, walk toward a blue SUV and bend at the waist in what appeared to police to be an attempt to drop an item. One of the officers approached Jackson, who fled to the 1800 block of 7th Street NW, where the officers subdued and arrested him. Alvonica Jackson began screaming at the officers and was also arrested.

Desmond Campbell was stopped by a fourth officer who saw that he matched the description of one of the stabbing-victim’s attackers, as provided by witnesses, and was also arrested. During the time the three were in handcuffs, Ali Jackson repeatedly apologized to Campbell and Alvonica Jackson, according to charging documents, ”for what had happened.”

Without being told why he was being stopped, Ali Jackson allegedly said, ”Why am I going down when the faggy is the one who maced me?” He also said Alvonica Jackson ”did not have anything to do with it.” Alvonica Jackson also allegedly asked why she was in handcuffs ”when faggy is the one who maced us.”

A witness was brought to the scene of the arrest and positively identified Ali Jackson as the person who had stabbed the victim. That same witness later identified Alvonica Jackson and Campbell as the people who had held down the victim during the stabbing. Police later found evidence of blood on Ali Jackson’s pants, pepper spray residue on Desmond Campbell’s shirt, and blood on Campbell’s pants.

Another witness told police that Alvonica Jackson had entered a bathroom in the Howard Theatre and removed $3 from a tip bowl belonging to the witness who identified the defendants. The second witness told police that Alvonica Jackson had been overheard plotting with Ali Jackson to rob someone. The charging documents indicate Alvonica Jackson was ”additionally charged with second-degree theft,” though she has not been formally charged on that count.

At the police station, Ali Jackson invoked his Miranda rights, but Alvonica Jackson and Campbell waived theirs and made derogatory, homophobic comments regarding the victim’s sexuality. Based on those comments, as well as those of Ali Jackson earlier at the crime scene, charging documents show that all three ”were additionally charged with hate crime enhancement in regards to the assault with a dangerous weapon (knife).” However, none of the three defendants has been formally charged with any bias enhancements related to the stabbing.

Court records also show that Ali Jackson had pleaded guilty June 5 to a charge of simple assault stemming from an incident in April when he had attempted to steal wine bottles from the Variety Market, 1618 8th St. NW, and assaulted the store’s owner. For that crime, Jackson was given a deferred sentencing agreement, which includes performing community service.

Jackson was previously charged in September 2011 with unlawfully entering Seaton Elementary School, in the city’s Shaw neighborhood, and in November with assaulting a police officer. Both charges were dismissed.

Ali Jackson was also previously charged with carrying a dangerous weapon, in October 2011, though a jury found him not guilty. According to charging documents in that case, Jackson was arrested in the 900 block of 3rd Street NW by two police officers who said Jackson rode a bicycle toward a group of transgender women while brandishing a knife.

Desmond Campbell was previously charged with unlawful entry and assaulting a police officer, in June 2008, but both charges were dismissed.

At today’s hearing, the attorneys also asked Judge Lori E. Parker to require the government to release any Brady information – physical, written, photographic or recorded evidence about the crime, the victim, witnesses and other parties involved that could potentially be used to help defense attorneys prove their clients innocent or call into question the credibility of government witnesses. Parker ordered the government to provide the lawyers with that information by July 6.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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