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Member of Roanoke street gang admits to murder of 17-year-old

Member of Roanoke street gang admits to murder of 17-year-old

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Shortly after shooting a 17-year-old in the back during a gang-related dispute in Northwest Roanoke, Demonte Rashod Mack took up the new nickname of “Murda.”

He made it official Wednesday, pleading guilty to a murder authorities say was part of an organized criminal enterprise called the Rollin’ 30s Crips.

Mack, 32, was the third defendant to plead guilty to involvement with the street gang, which prosecutors say was responsible for drug dealing, robberies, assaults and the shooting deaths of two young men.

One of them, Nickalas Lee, had recently joined the Rollin’ 30s Crips, but fell out of favor when he began to associate with the rival Bloods gang, according to evidence presented Wednesday in Roanoke’s federal court.

U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski accepted Mack’s admission that he shot Lee twice in the back as he tried to escape a confrontation outside a Tuckawana Circle apartment complex the night of June 14, 2017.

He will be sentenced later, and faces a mandatory term of life in prison under federal laws that portray the Rollin’ 30s Crips — which emerged in Roanoke about four years ago as a chapter of a national gang based in Los Angeles — as part of a racketeering operation.

The only hope of a lesser sentence would be for Mack to testify against the leader of the gang, Sean “Denk” Guerrant, who is scheduled to go on trial starting next Tuesday.

Depending on how that turns out, federal prosecutors could file a motion for substantial assistance, which would then allow Urbanski to go below the mandatory life sentence.

No promises have been made to Mack, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Miller said during Wednesday’s hearing.

On two additional charges, Mack faces a maximum of another life sentence, which is not required by the law, and up to 10 years as a part of the plea agreement.

Defense attorney Tony Anderson said he and co-counsel Aaron Houchens agreed with Mack that a guilty plea was his best option.

Otherwise, Mack would have gone to trial next week along with Guerrant. Prosecutors would have contended that the leader of the Rollin’ 30s Crips first ordered Lee to kill another gang member for disloyalty.

At the same time, Guerrant instructed Mack to kill Lee if the 17-year-old did not go through with the plan, according to a summary of facts submitted in court Wednesday. When the first intended murder victim ran away, Mack took Lee’s gun, chased him to the back of the apartment complex and opened fire after he had fallen to the ground.

Lee was pronounced dead at the scene.

The next day, Mack changed his Facebook screen name to “Murda,” according to an indictment charging him and three others with gang-related crimes. The nickname also appears throughout other court documents.

The second murder attributed to the gang happened Feb. 9, 2018, when Markel Trevon Girty, a 23-year-old man not associated with the Rollin’ 30s Crips, was shot during a drug deal at the Lansdowne Park public housing complex in Roanoke.

Dressed in a green-and-white striped jail suit, Mack answered most procedural questions from Urbanski — such as whether the understood the plea agreement with a quick “Yes, sir.”

The judge later asked: “Did you murder N.L. [Lee] at the direction of a gang leader?”

“Yes, sir,” Mack said.

“And who was that?” Urbanski inquired.

“Guerrant,” was the reply.

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Laurence Hammack covers environmental issues, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and business and enterprise stories. He has been a reporter for The Roanoke Times for more than three decades.

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