After a Capitol Hill burglary conspiracy involving some 300 break-ins unraveled in 2003, the six suspects in the case were pitted against one another in a three-week trial in D.C. Superior Court (“‘Let’s hit another one,’” 12/16/05). Three of the conspirators cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and testified against friends and family.
One of them was then-19-year-old Donnell Gaskins. When he took the stand in the fall of 2004, Gaskins came off as a vulnerable kid in a dysfunctional home who’d simply followed his older cousin and his friends into a life of burglaries. In the end, the courts treated him as such: Gaskins was the only conspirator to avoid prison time. Even his mother, Jacqueline Plummer, whom he’d had to testify against, received a three-month term for her meager role in the conspiracy.
But now Gaskins may find himself scrambling for yet another get-out-of-jail-free card. He was charged last month with carjacking in Prince George’s County. According to a detective’s report, an armed Gaskins and three accomplices approached the two victims outside their Honda Pilot in Hyattsville, Md., on June 6. Gaskins allegedly forced the two men into the back of the SUV as an accomplice took the wheel. After relieving them of their credit cards, cell phones, and checkbooks, Gaskins et al. apparently duct-taped the victims and left them on the side of the road before speeding away. About two weeks later, one of the victims identified Gaskins in a photo spread.
On July 13, Gaskins was charged in the District Court of Maryland for Prince George’s County with 13 counts—among them, armed carjacking, kidnapping, assault, robbery, theft, and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime. Even if Gaskins has the good fortune to avoid a lengthy term in one of Maryland’s state hoosegows, he’ll still have to hash things out with authorities in the District, where a hearing has been set for Sept. 15 to determine whether Gaskins violated the conditions of his D.C. probation. He has 15 years of a suspended sentence hanging over his head from the earlier burglary case.
Visited recently by a reporter at the Prince George’s County Correctional Center, Gaskins declined to comment on the alleged carjacking. “I’ve got nothing to say,” he said.CP