On a night in 2008, Demetrice “Respect” Devine picked up a younger member of his Bloods gang in a gold and silver Impala, looking aggravated and waving a .357 handgun, a witness testified Tuesday.
The witness, just 15 at the time, described Devine as the highest-ranking “Original Gangster” of the Black Mob Gangstas. As a woman named “Red” drove the car, Devine repeated to the witness, “I’m gonna kill him!”
The car stopped to pick up James “Hitman” Alston, a member of a rival Bloods set Devine wanted to recruit for the gang. Then it stopped again at a drug house behind Tarboro Street, the witness said, where Devine told them to look for either “Frankie Boo” or “Hush” and “put in work,” meaning kill one of the pair.
Instead, they found Adarius Fowler, 16, coming home from a corner store.
“Hitman” fired repeatedly, said the witness, who testified he also fired two or three shots before running back to Devine in the Impala.
“I was afraid to question him,” the witness said of Devine. “He was the Big Homie. He was the O.G. He has all power. ... You’re not supposed to snitch. You’re not supposed to tell. Basically, what I’m doing now.”
The News & Observer is no longer naming gang-affiliated witnesses in the federal murder and conspiracy trial against Devine and Brandon “B-Easy” Mangum after threats to witnesses and their families. Alston, the rival gang member named from the witness stand Tuesday, died of gunshot wounds in 2015 after becoming an anti-violence advocate in Southeast Raleigh, hours before he planned to speak at a “gang truce.”
A 2019 indictment accuses Devine of running the BMG gang around Haywood Street, collecting dues money raised through drugs and robbery, ordering underlings to shoot Fowler and another witness who talked to the police.
The same indictment accuses Mangum of shooting Rodriguez “Re-Up” Burrell, who refused to pay dues for selling marijuana on BMG turf, multiple witnesses have testified. State murder charges against Mangum were dismissed in 2011, years before the federal case came to trial.
‘Looking for a family’
Tuesday’s witness testified to joining the Black Mob Gangstas at age 15, near the end of eighth grade, in search of the family he lacked. His mother worked long hours and his father was frequently high on heroin, he said, leaving “an unhappy home.”
Gang members “were respected in my neighborhood,” said the witness, wearing a red prison jumpsuit. “Well-known and well-respected, and everybody knew them. ... I was looking for a family. Brotherhood. Pretty much to be noticed.”
The witness testified to shooting both Fowler and a second victim cooperative with law enforcement, again on Devine’s orders. On cross-examination from Devine’s attorney Mark Edwards, the witness confessed to a third shooting during his time with BMG.
Despite this, the witness never spoke to police until 2016, long after leaving the gang and North Carolina. The witness testified before a grand jury before pleading guilty to murder and without receiving promises.
“To find peace,” the witness said. “To let them know the truth. Get past my past.”
Under Edwards’ questioning, the witness said life in prison is a possibility and that cooperation with prosecutors presents the chance, but not a promise, for a reduced sentence.
The witness told jurors that family members have received a letter from Devine and that testifying creates nervousness and paranoia.
“I’m just trying to do the right thing,” the witness said. “Bring closure to families whose sons was taken.”
As he spoke, Fowler’s mother, Christina, sobbed from the gallery.
Testimony concluded Tuesday, and closing arguments from attorneys start Wednesday.