Three individuals accused of stabbing and attempting to rob a gay minor in front of the D.C.’s Howard Theatre in June pleaded guilty yesterday to various charges stemming from the incident as part of a government-offered plea deal that allows them to avoid going to trial.
Ali Jackson, the chief assailant, pleaded guilty to one count of assault with intent to kill (AWIK) with bias enhancements, as he admitted in D.C. Superior Court, in agreement with facts read aloud by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Doby, that he stabbed the victim multiple times and that the victim’s sexual orientation had played a role in the attack.
Jackson also pleaded guilty to an unrelated misdemeanor charge of assaulting a police officer while in custody, which occurred at the D.C. jail Dec. 15, when Jackson punched an officer who was on duty and in uniform.
For his crimes, Jackson could be sentenced to up to 22 years in prison for the non-fatal stabbing and up to 180 days for assaulting the officer. He must also pay two separate fines: up to $1,000 for the misdemeanor assault on the police officer, and up to $250 to a fund for victims of violent crime.
Jackson’s sister, Alvonica Jackson, pleaded guilty to one count of simple assault for grabbing the victim’s arm as her brother was stabbing him, but rejected Doby’s assertion that she attempted to assist her brother in stabbing the victim. She also pleaded guilty to second-degree theft for stealing $2 from a bathroom attendant’s tip bowl inside the theater.
For each charge, she could be sentenced to up to 180 days in prison with a fine of up to $1,000, and an additional fine of up to $250 to the Victims of Violent Crime fund.
Alvonica Jackson’s boyfriend, Desmond Raimon Campbell, pleaded guilty to one count of simple assault for choking the victim and holding him in a headlock after the victim tried to defend himself against Ali Jackson, which included spraying Jackson with pepper spray.
For that charge, Campbell could face up to 180 days in prison with a fine of up to $1,000, and an additional fine of up to $250 to the Victims of Violent Crime fund.
Sentencing for all three is set for March 22.
The plea deal significantly lessens the possible degree of punishment for Alvonica Jackson and Campbell, who were previously indicted on charges of assault with intent to kill and assault with significant bodily injury, with bias enhancements. Had there been no plea deal, Ali Jackson would also have faced several charges for which he was indicted in November, including threatening to do bodily harm, assault with significant bodily injury and robbery, all carrying bias enhancements.
After questioning each defendant about their willingness to accept the plea deal and their understanding that they were forgoing trial and their right to appeal, D.C. Superior Court Judge Patricia Broderick determined Jan. 9 that all three defendants understood the terms of the deal and potential prison sentences, and allowed the plea deal to move forward.
Ali Jackson will remain in custody, while Alvonica Jackson and Campbell were released, as the three await sentencing.
Doby also advised Broderick that the victim will be filing an impact statement prior to sentencing.
According to facts of the case read into the record by Doby, Ali Jackson had a verbal argument with the 16-year-old victim, whom he knew to be gay, on the evening of June 26. Jackson threatened to stab the victim, calling him a ”faggot,” then fled into an alley adjacent the Howard Theatre, at Florida Avenue and T Street NW. Ali Jackson returned to the scene not long after with a knife, sneaking behind the victim and yelling, ”I’m gonna poke your bitch ass, you faggot!” As Jackson and the victim fought, Campbell arrived and began choking the victim while Alvonica Jackson grabbed his arm. At the same time, Ali Jackson repeatedly stabbed the victim. During the course of the attack, the victim produced a can of pepper spray, which he used against his attackers, who fled the scene. Nearby police officers detained the suspects and arrested them.
The victim, who survived the attack, was taken to Howard University Hospital and treated for stab wounds to his left bicep, lower back and left leg.
Police say the three suspects frequently called the victim homophobic slurs and made comments about his sexuality while in custody, evidence that was later used to push for bias enhancements in their pre-trial indictments and in Ali Jackson’s plea deal.