York man charged in gang murder case

YORK -- A York man again has been accused of murder in last year's gang-related shooting death of a teenager on California Street, according to the state attorney general's office.

Antonio Mobley, 25, of 13 Rosewood Lane was indicted by the state grand jury on Wednesday, the attorney general's office said in a statement released Thursday. He becomes the first person indicted by the grand jury in a gang-related incident since the jury's authority was expanded last year.

The indictment comes after months of controversy surrounding the case. Mobley initially was arrested on a murder charge by the York Police Department about a week after the Sept. 11 shooting. But those charges were dropped in November, weeks after 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett said York police botched the investigation.

Brackett's concerns included a search warrant found in the case file that said witnesses saw another man shoot Chester.

"There's only one gun that was used to kill Dawud Chester. One person had their finger on the trigger, not two," Brackett said at the time. "This isn't like an Agatha Christie novel."

York police continued to defend their investigation.

Mark Plowden, communications director for the attorney general's office, said the combined efforts of his office, the State Law Enforcement Division, the York Police Department and Brackett's office cleared up any concerns.

"There were issues of incomplete and insufficient evidence surrounding evidence in the case," Plowden said. "I think it would be fair to say that those issues have been resolved."

Wednesday's indictment alleges that Mobley shot and killed Chester with "malice aforethought," according to the attorney general's office.

Chester was shot during a fight between the Cali Boys and the Valley Boys, two York-area gangs, police said. Chester was a member of the Valley Boys, authorities said.

York Mayor Eddie Lee said the arrest should bring vindication to the York Police Department.

"The York Police Department investigated the killing properly from the very start," he said.

Police Chief Bill Mobley said he was happy but not surprised to hear about the indictment.

"Like I said from the very beginning, I was confident in the investigation and what the officers did," he said. "The results were what I expected."

Brackett said he's glad the prosecution is moving forward. He explained the murder charge against Antonio Mobley was dropped in November because the state grand jury was handling the case.

"In the event that the grand jury did indict, our warrants wouldn't stand anyway," he said. "We would dismiss those."

Mobley's lawyer, Melvin Roberts of York, said that from talking to local police, he doesn't believe any new evidence has been found since the charges were dismissed.

"I think it's a very, very weak case," he said. "It was dismissed once, and they've just taken it from local to (the state) grand jury. I understand that they're using the same evidence and recharging him. (The evidence) didn't improve any on the way to Columbia, I don't think."

While the state grand jury was able to indict Mobley in the killing, Roberts said authorities will have a harder time convicting him.

"He has assured me that he is innocent and there certainly isn't any evidence to convince me otherwise," Roberts said.

Because Mobley is the first person indicted under the state grand jury's expanded gang authority, the case has statewide significance, Plowden said. Legislators expanded the authority in June as part of an anti-gang law.

Unlike a county grand jury, the state grand jury can subpoena witnesses and gather evidence. Prosecutors say this helps in gang-related cases where witnesses may be less likely to talk because they're afraid of retaliation.

"You're able to get people to talk and say things that they might not otherwise want to say," Brackett said. "They can tell the police, 'No, I don't want to talk to you.' But they can't tell the grand jury that."

The case could become bigger as a result, Plowden said.

"If Mr. Mobley was taken before a county grand jury, that grand jury could only hear evidence that would support a charge of murder against him," Plowden said. "The state grand jury can expand their review and subpoena additional documents, evidence and witnesses pertaining to the gang itself. That's the key difference and why this could well become a much larger case."

The case will be prosecuted by the attorney general's office.

The York Police Department and the York County Sheriff's Office said Thursday evening that they had not arrested Mobley.