The case of the reputed gang killings of a Charlotte-area couple took a major turn Tuesday with five accused members of United Blood Nation pleading guilty for their roles in the 2014 killings of Doug and Debbie London.
New documents filed with the pleas also reveal powerful new details about the deaths of the couple, who prosecutors say were shot down in their Lake Wylie, S.C., home a year ago this week to keep them from testifying against UBN members who tried to rob their Pineville store.
More pleas are expected. Missing from the ranks of purported gang members who walked into U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler’s courtroom were Jamell “Assassin” Cureton, who ordered and helped plan the hit from his Mecklenburg jail cell, and Malcolm Hartley, who carried it out, prosecutors say. Both remain in custody and face possible death penalties in the case.
Cureton and Doug London exchanged gunfire during a May 2014 attempted robbery of the Mattress Warehouse on South Boulevard. Cureton was wounded in the stomach.
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Months later, and angered by the Londons’ appearances at preliminary hearings in the robbery case, Cureton ordered the potential witnesses silenced, prosecutors say.
“That s--- got out of hand, bro,” Cureton told Hartley during a phone call from the jail on Oct. 7, 2014, two weeks before the shootings, according to the documents. “I didn’t want it to come to that but that s--- done got out of hand.”
On Oct. 23, 2014, Hartley put on blue latex gloves, emptied the chambers of the murder weapon, then wiped each bullet clean of fingerprints with a red bandana, the new documents say. Briana “Breezy B” Johnson, a UBN affiliate and the daughter of a Concord police officer, then drove her boyfriend across the state line.
Around 8 p.m., Hartley knocked on the front door on the Londons’ home. When Deborah London opened it, Hartley shot her in the face, documents say.
Doug London came running from another side of the house and fired a shot before his gun jammed on the spent cartridge. Hartley shot him, then fled, documents say. He stopped and retraced his steps when he heard Doug London crying behind the front door. The reputed gang member known as “Bloody Silent” re-entered the house and again shot the husband, this time killing him, documents say. Authorities found the couple’s bodies near each other. Doug London had bullet wounds in his face, chest and two in his back.
Afterward, gang members celebrated the killings at an apartment near Interstate 85 and Sugar Creek Road, prosecutors say. Two days later, Cureton called Hartley from the jail. The new documents describe their conversation.
“Who do I owe my thanks to?” Cureton asked.
“Silent,” Hartley said, referring to his nickname.
Cureton thanked him.
“I did what I could,” Hartley replied.
Afterward, prosecutors say Hartley got a promotion within the gang.
Five of their alleged co-conspirators pleaded guilty to charges ranging from murder to robbery and racketeering conspiracy on Tuesday. None were at the Londons’ house when the couple was killed, but they played roles before or afterward, prosecutors have said. Each of the murder charges carries the maximum penalty of death, though prosecutors are not expected to pursue it in these cases.
▪ David “Flames” Fudge, 22, of Pineville. He drove the getaway car after the failed May 2014 robbery of the Londons’ store and took an active role planning the killings, prosecutors say. He pleaded guilty to two murder counts, robbery and conspiracy. If prosecutors pursue the death penalty, Fudge can withdraw his guilty plea.
▪ Rahkeem “Hitman” McDonald, 23, of Charlotte, who prosecutors say buried the murder weapon and destroyed other evidence. He entered a guilty plea on two murder counts and racketeering conspiracy. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth Greene and Don Gast told Keesler that McDonald will not face the death penalty. In return for his plea, two weapons charges were dropped.
▪ Ibn “IB” Kornegay, 36, of Greenville, N.C., a top statewide UBN leader who helped plan the killings, prosecutors say. He pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.
▪ Centrilia “CeCe” Leach, 31, of Charlotte. Cureton’s sometimes girlfriend photographed Debbie London at a court hearing and gathered other evidence about the couple, prosecutors say. She pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.
▪ Daquan “Day Day” Everett, 21, of Charlotte, who also pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy. He hosted a celebration of the Londons’ killings at his home, prosecutors say.
All five will be sentenced later. Racketeering charges normally carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Because this conspiracy involved murder, the maximum punishment becomes life in prison, prosecutors said. As part of their pleas, the five promised to cooperate with authorities in their investigation of the gang. In return, prosecutors can recommend lighter sentences.
Charges stemming from the Londons’ killings remain pending against seven of the reputed gang members, though that number could change with additional pleas.
▪ Cureton, 23, of Charlotte – two counts of murder, robbery, racketeering conspiracy, assault with a deadly weapon and other weapons charges.
▪ Hartley, 22, of Charlotte – two counts of murder, conspiracy and three weapons charges.
▪ Johnson, 19, of Concord – two counts of murder, conspiracy and weapons charges.
▪ Nana “Ratchet” Adoma, 20, of Charlotte – robbery, racketeering conspiracy, assault with a deadly weapon and a weapons charge.
▪ Randall “Foe” Hankins, 21, of Charlotte – two counts of murder, conspiracy and weapons charges.
▪ Nehemijel “Swagg Out” Houston, 21, of Charlotte – racketeering conspiracy.
▪ Ahkeem “Lil Keem” McDonald, 21, of Charlotte – racketeering conspiracy.
Cureton and Ahkeem McDonald also face murder and weapons charges in connection with the 2013 execution-style killing of Kwamne Clyburn, a homeless teenager from Winston-Salem. Court documents say Clyburn was bound and shot multiple times in a Charlotte park because he falsely claimed to be a member of the gang.
UBN, an East Coast affiliate of the better known Bloods, has strong criminal ties in Charlotte. Authorities estimate the gang has more than 460 members in Mecklenburg County.
Staff researcher Maria David contributed.