U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Middle District of Tennessee
110 9th Avenue South
Nashville, Tennessee 37203-3870
Fax (615) 736-5323
For Immediate Release
October 27, 2009
Edward M. Yarbrough, United States Attorney
Contact: Van Vincent, Assistant U.S. Attorney
Nine Gang Members Charged In 64-Count Indictment
Vice Lord Gang Members Allegedly Responsible for Series of Murders and
Attempted Murders in Middle Tennessee Area
Nashville, Tennessee — October 27, 2009 - Edward M. Yarbrough, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, announced a 64-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Nashville, on October 7, 2009, charging nine individuals with the commission of violent crimes in furtherance of racketeering activity. These crimes include murder, kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, attempted murder, conspiracy to possess firearms in relation to violent crimes, the use and carrying of firearms in violent crimes, and conspiracy to distribute drugs.
“This indictment represents the culmination of a great deal of hard work by the Murfreesboro and Nashville Police Departments, agents of the ATF, TBI and local and federal prosecutors, particularly Assistant U.S. Attorney Van Vincent,” said U.S. Attorney Ed Yarbrough. “ Their cooperation has produced an investigation that reveals unacceptable violence and lawlessness in our community. These defendants, and others like them, will be aggressively prosecuted so that innocent citizens will no longer fear gang violence on their streets and in their homes.”
The indictment was unsealed on October 22, 2009.
Joining U.S. Attorney Ed Yarbrough at a morning news conference were William Whitesell, District Attorney General,16th Judicial District; Torry Johnson, Davidson County District Attorney General; James Cavanaugh, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), Nashville Field Division; Connie Atkinson, Special Agent in Charge, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI); Randy Garrett, Deputy Chief of the Murfreesboro Police Department and Ronal Serpas, Chief of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.
Those indicted are:
- Roger Wayne Battle a/k/a “T-Wayne,” age 28, of Nashville, Tenn.;
- Jessie Lobbins a/k/a “Jessie Oliver” a/k/a “Trap,” 24, of Nashville, Tenn.;
- Gary Eugene Chapman a/k/a “Wheat,” age 30, of Murfreesboro, Tenn.;
- Christopher David Imes a/k/a “Chris,” age 21, of Murfreesboro, Tenn.;
- Demarco Lewayne Smith a/k/a “Marco,” age 23, of Murfreesboro, Tenn.;
- Lashandra Danielle Hightower a/k/a “Daniel,” age 26 of Murfreesboro, Tenn.;
- Curtis S. Green a/k/a “Curt,” age 28, of Nashville, Tenn.;
- Samuel Joseph Gaines a/k/a “Born Ready,” age 22, of Murfreesboro, Tenn. and
- Delregus Alexander a/k/a “Blow,” age 35, of Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Six of these defendants are in custody. Demarco Lewayne Smith, Samuel Joseph Gaines and Curtis S. Green remain at large.
Battle, Imes, and Smith are charged with the murder of Moss James Dixon in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The indictment alleges this shooting occurred on November 13, 2007. Hightower is charged with conspiring to commit this murder.
Battle and Lobbins are charged with the murder of Brandon Harris, a/k/a “Chicago”. The indictment alleges this murder occurred on February 10, 2008, in Nashville, Tennessee. Gaines is charged with conspiring to commit this murder.
The indictment alleges that these murders were a part of a series of murders and attempted murders that occurred between November 13, 2007, and February 10, 2008. According to the indictment, Battle a/k/a "T-Wayne" was the leader of the street gang known as the Traveling Vice Lords in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and Nashville, Tennessee. Lobbins, Chapman, Imes, Smith, Hightower, Green, Alexander, and Gaines were members of the Traveling Vice Lords and held ranks lower than Battle.
The indictment alleges that the members of the Traveling Vice Lords and the Conservative Vice Lords, including Battle, Imes, Gaines, and Chapman, were assaulted on November 10, 2007, at a club called “The Drink” in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. During the course of the assault, the leader of the Conservative Vice Lords, Donnell Valentine a/k/a “Hit Man” was shot and killed. The indictment alleges the assault at “The Drink” occurred after Battle, Imes, Chapman and Valentine had kidnapped Antwon Butler a/k/a “Tweezy” and put him out of the gang by beating him.
As a result of the assault and murder at “The Drink,” defendants Battle, Chapman, Imes, Smith, Hightower, Green, and Gaines, conspired to retaliate against those persons believed to have been involved in the assault and murder by shooting at locations where those persons were thought to reside.
The indictment alleges that the first retaliatory shooting occurred on November 13, 2007, at 431 East State Street in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. There were five persons in that house and two of them were shot during the incident.
The second shooting occurred on November 14, 2007, at 907 West Main Street in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. There were four persons in this house at the time of the shooting. Moss James Dixon was shot and died as a result of his injuries.
The third shooting occurred on November 18, 2007, at 1401 Eagle Street in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. There were three persons in the residence at the time of this shooting. None were injured.
The fourth shooting occurred on January 1, 2008, at 424 Castleview Street in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. There were three persons in the residence at the time of this shooting. Two of those persons were shot.
The fifth shooting occurred on February 10, 2008, and was conducted by Battle and Lobbins, resulting in the death of Brandon Harris a/k/a “Chicago.” The indictment alleges that Harris, a member of the Mikey Cobras, a gang aligned with the Vice Lords, had made comments that Battle may have had some involvement in the death of Valentine. Subsequently, Battle lured Harris to the O'Charley's on Bell Road in Nashville, Tennessee under the guise of a drug transaction. Battle and Lobbins then led Harris, in a car driven by Gaines, to Rice Road in Antioch, Tennessee, where Battle and Lobbins shot Harris to death.
“Police, ATF Special Agents and prosecutors don't forget about shootings and murders. In this case, investigative perseverance has paid off, making Nashville and Murfreesboro a safer place. Solving these type of gang related crimes and preventing future acts of violence continues to be a high priority,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge James Cavanaugh.
"The Vice Lord gang, and its membership both inside and outside of prison walls, has been on the radar of our Gang Unit since July 2005, when we first arrested Battle for aggravated assault on police officers," said Metro Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas. "He was convicted and received an eight-year sentence, was back on the streets within just a few years, and by 2008 was again the subject of an investigation by our Gang Unit. That led to the close cooperation with ATF, Murfreesboro Police and the U.S. Attorney's Office, and ultimately this month's indictment."
The investigation was a joint operation conducted by the ATF, the TBI, the Murfreesboro Police Department, and the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Van Vincent is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
The public is reminded that an indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is presumed not guilty and is entitled to a jury trial at which the Government would bear the burden of proving each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.