Judge Sentences Two of Six Defendants For Murder of 10-Year-Old Girl

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On Oct. 6, DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun sentenced Marquell Cobbs to six years for conspiracy, and Isaiah Murchison to 60 years incarceration in what Murchison’s attorneys called a “life-sentence”.

On June 13, 24-year-old Murchison, 26-year-old Quentin Michals, 28-year-old Gregory Taylor, 25-year-old Qujuan Thomas, and 24-year-old Darrise Jeffers were convicted of 22 charges, including conspiracy, first-degree murder while armed, four counts of assault with intent to kill, and six counts of criminal gang affiliation for their involvement in a mass-shooting that killed 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson and left four other individuals injured. The incident occurred on July 16, 2018, on the 300 block of 53rd Street, SE, and resulted from gang retaliation.

According to prosecutors, the defendants belong to what’s known as the Wellington Park Crew, which they argue is a criminal street gang and are responsible for crimes throughout the city. 

Unlike the rest, Cobbs, 21, was acquitted of all charges except conspiracy. 

Several members of Makiyah’s family delivered impact statements. Her mother described her as “an angel on earth,” and said Makiyah would brighten up any room she walked into. Makiyah’s mother thanked God for justice. 

Makiyah’s grandmother argued “it’s been a long five years,” explaining the true pain and loss their family endured. She told Cobbs and Murchison “I hope you’ll learn to value life… If ‘Kiyah were here, she’d say ‘grandma forgive them’, but I can’t do it”. 

“I can’t even stand here and wish bad things on you, I’ll hope and pray for everyone,” she stated. 

In a letter read by prosecutors, Makiyah’s dad described her as a “genuine spirit,” who would comfort, encourage, and wish the best for people. “One of the most precious gifts was taken from us on July 16, 2018,” he wrote.

“I live for my son, in the memory of Makiyah,” the letter said. 

Prosecutors argued that Cobbs’ involvement in the conspiracy was much more complex than his defense attorney, Kevin McCants, recounted. They insisted he was a part of the conspiracy from the very beginning, keeping tabs on their “opps,” or rivals, buying guns for the Crew, and hiding them after Makiyah’s murder. 

The prosecutors requested Judge Okun sentence Cobbs to 84 months incarceration, because, “He chose to be a part of this crew and this lifestyle”. Prosecutors argued Cobbs had several opportunities to change his path, but that after assisting the other defendants in Makiyah’s murder he was re-arrested mid-trial in a separate incident for a gun charge in Montgomery County, MD. 

“He, and he alone, is responsible for his actions,” prosecutors insisted. 

“This is a sad, sad situation,” said McCants, arguing that Makiyah’s death was not meant to happen. He reminded the court that Cobbs was 16-years-old at the time of his arrest, and was acquitted of everything but the conspiracy. 

McCants told the court that, when Makiyah’s autopsy images were shown during trial, Cobbs cried. “The fact this young lady died hurt him, and hurt him dearly,” he said. 

McCants said he has known Cobbs since he was born and his family has a plan set for his future. 

He asked Judge Okun to sentence Cobbs “based on the truth,” stating that Cobbs spent four years on house arrest, and was compliant with all release conditions. 

Cobbs thanked Judge Okun for his kindness throughout the trial. He stated that, after his rearrest, being in a cell for 23 hours of the day gave him time to think and understand the gravity of his situation in the interest of fixing things.  

McCant’s requested Cobbs be sentenced under the Youth Rehabilitation Act (YRA), insisting he never had violent tendencies, and he was just in a dangerous neighborhood environment.

Prosecutors countered Cobbs’ family has done a lot to set him up in life and he has failed to take every opportunity. According to prosecutors, Cobbs has “shown he’s not going to learn”. 

Judge Okun denied McCant’s request for sentencing under the YRA, citing the seriousness, length, and repeated criminal activity surrounding his conspiracy conviction. He sentenced Cobbs to 72 months incarceration, and three years of supervised release. Once released, he will need to seek employment and participate in substance abuse assessments and treatment. 

“For your sake, for your family’s sake, and for the community’s sake, I hope that you can comply with whatever conditions of release and never come back here again,” Judge Okun told Cobbs before he was escorted out of the courtroom. 

As for Murchison, prosecutors argued he joined the conspiracy in 2017, made it clear he had issues with other crews and neighborhoods, and retaliated against them when his friends and co-conspirators were attacked.

During the trial, prosecutors proved that Murchison was one of the four shooters that fired more than 50 gunshots into the Clay Terrace courtyard the day Wilson was killed. Because of his involvement in the actual shooting, prosecutors requested the sentences for the murder, the four assaults with intent to kill, and the conspiracy run consecutively, with all other charges running concurrently. 

Prosecutors requested 480 months for the murder, 120 months for one count of assault with intent to kill, and 90 months for each of the other three assaults with intent to kill charges, seeking a total of 76 and a half years incarceration. 

According to the prosecutors, “this is an appropriate sentence,” arguing that Murchison had chances to change his life, and did not care who was injured or killed in the shootings in which he participated.

“An image that will stick with me forever is the image of [Makiyah’s sister] holding Makiyah as she died,” said the prosecutor. She stated the court can make sure Murchison doesn’t do it ever again. 

Murchison’s defense attorney, Elizabeth Weller, insisted he was not an integral part of the conspiracy and that, “It is unfair to overstate his involvement”. She requested he be sentenced to all concurrent sentences, otherwise he’d be facing incarceration for the rest of his life. 

According to Weller, Murchison showed he was struggling and “trauma and violence just kept coming,” stating that people important to Murchison were continuously victims of gun violence. 

She argued that Murchison is remorseful and just trying to get through each day. “Two kids lost their father,” Weller stated, explaining that his two kids will have to be raised by Murchison’s family member. 

Murchison chose not to make a statement during the sentencing. 

“This is very hard,” said Judge Okun. He argued that if he imposed concurrent sentences it would minimize the seriousness of the crimes. 

He imposed a sentence of 360 months for the first-degree murder charge, and 90 months for each of the assault with intent to kill charges, which are to be served consecutively to one another. 

Judge Okun also imposed a 48 month sentence for the conspiracy charge, 60 months for each of the possession of a firearm during a crime of violence charge, and 12 months for each of the criminal gang affiliation charges, which will run concurrently to the other sentences. 

Murchison is expected to serve 60 years of incarceration, with the chance to be released early for good behavior.

He is also required to register as a gun offender, and will have to pay $100 to the Victims of Violent Crime Fund for each of the charges, which is due October of 2073.

Judge Okun told Murchison “I know this is an incredibly long sentence. I get no pleasure imposing it, but I know you have a lot of potential… Good luck”.  

Weller alerted the court they are planning on filing an appeal following the sentencing.  

Michals, Taylor, Thomas, and Jeffers are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 20.

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