Crime

Accused leader in Lake Wylie killings pleads not guilty

Jamell Cureton, alleged mastermind of the murders of Doug and Debbie London, arrives at federal court for a hearing Wednesday morning.
Jamell Cureton, alleged mastermind of the murders of Doug and Debbie London, arrives at federal court for a hearing Wednesday morning. DAVIE HINSHAW DHINSHAW@CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.COM

The man accused of ordering the October shooting deaths of Doug and Debbie London pleaded not guilty to all charges during a brief Wednesday morning appearance in federal court.

Jamell Cureton, 22, is accused of murder, racketeering and other crimes in a federal indictment released last week. He is accused of planning the murders of the Londons as well as taking part in the 2013 shooting death of 18-year-old Kwamne Clyburn in a Charlotte park.

His hearing this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer lasted about 40 seconds. If convicted on all counts, the Charlotte man faces a possible death sentence and $2.5 million in fines.

The indictment alleges that Cureton is one of three gang members who tried to rob the Londons’ mattress store on South Boulevard last May. Cureton was wounded during a shootout with Doug London.

Prosecutors say the couple was gunned down at their Lake Wylie, S.C., home to keep Doug London from testifying against Cureton, his brother Nana Adoma and David Fudge. All three are reputed members of United Blood Nation, an East Coast gang with deep criminal ties across the region. Cureton is accused of ordering and planning the killings from his Mecklenburg County jail cell.

The federal indictment accuses 12 suspected gang members of charges ranging from murder to racketeering conspiracy and firearms violations. Six of the 12 defendants are charged with murder in connection with the shootings of the Londons. Cureton and another reputed UBN member, Ahkeem McDonald, also are charged with Clyburn’s death. All the murder defendants face a possible death sentence.

The five other defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy related to the Londons’ death. They face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Cureton and his attorney have asked that the charges against him be dropped because of constitutional violations by the government. Separate motions filed by Cureton and his attorney, Chiege Okwara of Charlotte, allege that FBI agents seized confidential correspondence between Cureton and Okwara along with other documents vital to Cureton’s defense during a January raid on Cureton’s jail cell. Okwara says their arguments will be heard May 13.

In her motion filed Tuesday, Okwara says some of those documents have not been returned. She says her client’s right to a fair trial has been damaged and that the indictment should be dismissed.

After the Wednesday hearing, Okwara said she still hasn’t seen a letter that Cureton says he had written and was preparing to mail when it was seized. She said she doesn’t know if other documents are missing, too.

Asked about her client’s state of mind, she said he’s facing the death penalty and is “distraught.”

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