Brutal details told of 2010 Camden gang killings

Shatara Carter, now 15, is serving a 20-year sentence for aggravated manslaughter.
Shatara Carter, now 15, is serving a 20-year sentence for aggravated manslaughter.
Posted: February 21, 2011

At 14, a hardened Shatara "Feisty" Carter boasted about her part in the torture and killing of two people in her Camden home a year ago.

Shortly after the slayings, the teenager offered a long confession so disturbingly detailed that veteran law enforcement officials were shocked by the unbridled brutality used against the Burlington County couple.

Although tearful at times, Carter eventually grew animated as she re-created the frenzy among 10 members of the Bloods gang.

She even pointed out blood on her shoes that her aunt could not clean in the wash. An investigator with the Camden County Prosecutor's Office offered to take the bloody sneakers and get her a new pair.

Carter, the youngest in the group, said 23-year-old Michael "Doc Money" Hawkins was killed for his association with the rival Crips.

The gang then decided that Hawkins' girlfriend, 18-year-old Muriah Ashley Huff, also had to die.

"They put me in charge," Carter said.

Tuesday is the one-year anniversary of the killings in Carter's home in the 500 block of Berkley Street. The case was back in the news last week when nine members of the Lueders Park Piru Bloods, a loosely organized group named after the Los Angeles street gang, were indicted on murder charges.

Carter is the only gang member to plead guilty in the case. She is serving a 20-year prison sentence for aggravated manslaughter.

Inquirer reporters viewed several confessions, including those of Carter, now 15, and the gang's leader, Kuasheim "Presto" Powell, 25, also of Camden. The statements offer rare insight into a gang that appeared to value violence more than life in a city with one of the highest crime rates in the nation.

"This is the worst I've ever seen," said Camden County Assistant Prosecutor Mary Alison Albright, who has worked with the prosecutor's office for more than 23 years.

Couple arrives

Late on the morning of Feb. 22, 2010, Huff, a Cinnaminson cosmetology student at the Burlington County Institute of Technology, arrived with Hawkins in the Camden neighborhood, where boarded buildings checker the blocks.

At the rowhouse, neighbors said, young people typically paraded in and out. They hung out on the steps and often got rowdy on the sidewalk. Some gang members said they frequently slept there, as if it was a boardinghouse.

Hawkins, of Maple Shade, bounced among more than a dozen foster homes in New Jersey, and the gangs were more like his family. Although he befriended the Bloods, he also associated with the rival Crips.

Huff had been to the Camden rowhouse several times with Hawkins, but she was not in a gang.

When the couple arrived Feb. 22, Carter said, the gang smoked marijuana and listened to music. Carter said her brother, Dennis "Hitman" Welch, 20, was initially at the house and her boyfriend, Peter "Stumpy" Leonce, 18, of New York, came later. So did Powell's girlfriend, Shaniqua "Shik" Pierre, 19, of Deptford; Pierre's brother, Darryl "Rush" Pierre, 20, of Merchantville; and Lance "Crunch" Fulton, 20, of Camden.

The gang was weary of Hawkins. Powell said Hawkins had stolen two bottles of booze from the Pennsauken home of Keenan "Buddy" Wideman, 18, who relatives said was a promising runner and basketball player.

Powell, who moved between Camden and New York, tried to broker a truce between the gang and Hawkins, he told investigators. The day before the slaying, he said, he took his friend into the Berkley Street bathroom for a talk.

"Yo, they're mad because you stole liquor from the home. You can't do that," Powell said.

"Just go and don't come back no more," he warned.

The gang's trouble with Hawkins ran deeper. At least a year earlier, a gunman had fired shots at Powell during a block party in Camden. Powell had been told the rival Crips leader was behind it, and Hawkins answered to him.

On Feb. 22, the gang decided to take action without Powell. After Hawkins and Huff arrived, the couple partied and watched TV with the gang. Carter took Huff downstairs.

Carter said at least two adults were in the house, including her mother, Arnetta "Miss Peanut" Welch, 38, who - until her eviction in July - lived in the rowhouse with her son and three daughters.

Everyone except Huff knew Hawkins was going to be beaten, Carter said.

The others had already decided to test Hawkins. They left $3 on a table in Dennis Welch's room to see whether Hawkins would pocket the money, Welch recalled in his confession.

After the money disappeared, the beatings began. They delivered repeated blows with their fists and a bat that broke nearly every bone in Hawkins' face, authorities said.

Hawkins screamed. Carter, in the doorway, said she hurried downstairs and cranked up the music where Huff had been dancing with others.

Calls ignored

The gang called Powell. He ignored it as he sat in a pickup truck in a Burger King parking lot with David "Demo" Hardwick, 18, of Pennsauken. Hardwick got a call as well. He ignored it, too.

Then, according to Powell, Powell received a picture on his cell phone of Hawkins. He was beaten, tied up, and gagged.

An irritated Powell told Hardwick to take the next call.

The problem, Darryl Pierre told Hardwick, was Hawkins. The gang wanted to know what to do, insisting Powell come to the house. Powell spoke to Pierre next.

"If you can get here, get here. . . . We're gonna do what we gotta do," Powell recalled an exasperated Pierre told him.

Hawkins was "my dude," Powell told investigators. He didn't approve of the beating. He said he was worried the gang was really after him, planning a "bite back" to overthrow his leadership because he had not already dealt with Hawkins.

He had taken more severe action for less.

The day before, when Powell, Hawkins, and others were at the 36th Street River Line Station in Pennsauken, Powell reportedly shot two men - one in the face, after he had said hello to Powell's girlfriend, Shaniqua Pierre.

Don't "talk to my girl," Pierre recalled his saying during her confession.

The gang questioned why Powell - who also has been charged in the Pennsauken assaults - did not show the same concern about Hawkins.

Powell said the gang hounded him over time: "Doc Money is a Crip."

"So what?" Powell told investigators.

Newest member

On Feb. 22, Powell got to the rowhouse about 4 p.m. with Hardwick, Wideman, and Clive "Live" Hinds, 19, of Maple Shade. Hinds, who attended classes at a community college, was the newest gang member.

His mother brought him to the prosecutor's office and called him a "child of God" as she urged him to "tell the truth."

Hinds recalled that Hawkins was slumped in a closet, a bloody T-shirt draped over his head.

Carter rushed to Powell and showed him gang scribblings found in Hawkins' backpack, Carter recalled. Hawkins kept a list that included "Ish," the local Crips leader, she said.

Powell looked at the paper. Apparently, he had been convinced Hawkins had befriended him only to get close enough to kill him.

"Oh yea? You die," Carter recalled his saying.

Powell raised a .22-caliber revolver.

"This is serious," Powell recalled saying. "I shot him."

"Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom," Carter told investigators as she reenacted the slaying. In his last utterings, Hawkins pleaded for his life.

"Presto, I love you," Powell recalled hearing from his friend as Hawkins crawled toward him. "I would never wrong you, I would never wrong you."

Oblivious

Huff was downstairs, Carter told Powell.

"What are you going to do about her?" Carter asked.

Beat her up, Powell said.

He barreled down the stairs. Huff was oblivious to what had happened upstairs. Powell demanded to know: Was she part of the plan to kill him?

She didn't know what Powell was talking about, Carter said.

"Yo! Are you lying or not?" Powell roared. "I'm not going to let you leave out of this house unless you tell me the truth."

He raised his gun and squeezed the trigger.

"The gun just clicked," Carter said. The beating began.

Carter's mother jumped up and wedged herself between Powell and Huff.

"My mom was like no, please, stop, stop. Give her room," Carter said.

Dennis Welch, Carter's brother, pulled his mother into a nearby bedroom, saying she didn't need to be involved. He sat her down, turned up gospel music, and the two stayed there for about an hour, Welch recalled in his statement to authorities.

Powell told investigators that after he had hit Huff with the gun, he grabbed a chair and broke it over Huff's head.

"Don't lie to me, don't lie to me!" Powell warned.

Huff wept, begged Powell to stop, and fought ferociously to stay alive, according to several gang members, including Carter.

Carter told Lt. Ron Molton and investigator Patricia Tulane of the prosecutor's office that she wanted to help Huff. She leaned over and whispered, "Please, make something up because I don't want to hurt you."

"Pop off on her," Powell ordered as he raced up the stairs to check on Hawkins.

Choked and stabbed

Carter took the lead. She choked and stabbed Huff but wasn't strong enough, she told investigators as she made stabbing motions.

Hinds said he told Carter she didn't have to kill Hawkins. He didn't have the stomach to do it himself, he told the investigators as they calmly listened to his version.

Hinds gave Carter a jump rope he got from Carter's sister, she said, showing how she struggled with the rope during the assault.

"Feisty was talking crazy," Hinds recalled. Others helped, but "Feisty was pretty much going to work at the girl trying to kill her."

The guys helped Carter, but "she's not dying," Carter told investigators as she became very animated, using Tulane to re-create that slaying in great detail. It finally ended when gang members slipped a clear plastic bag over Huff's head. Carter recalled, "Her eyes shut and she dies."

Eyes covered

Carter's mother later came out of the bedroom. Carter said they covered her eyes as she passed the bodies.

Powell apologized for the mess, he said. He promised Welch he would take care of it and warned the gang, "When I get back it better be done," Carter recalled.

Hinds recalled that Powell threw a chair across the room.

"If ya'll wanna be gangsters, ya'll gotta ride now," Powell insisted, circling the room and looking at each of them.

Relatives and friends helped the gang scrub the walls and floors. They stripped the clothes off the victims. They discarded the carpet and clothing. And they worked into the night to bury the bodies in the knee-deep snow.

Rumors spread through the neighborhood. Police received a tip. On Feb. 25, investigators dug through the snow. They first discovered Huff's left leg in the shallow grave where both bodies lay.

As authorities processed the crime scene inside the house, investigators sprayed Luminol. When they scanned the rooms with ultraviolet lights, blue neon glowed on the walls, floor, and steps, and in the closet. As one official said, "There was blood everywhere."

Even on Carter's shoes.


Nine indicted in Camden gang killings

Nine members of the Bloods street gang in Camden were indicted last week on murder charges in the deaths of Muriah Ashley Huff and Michael "Doc Money" Hawkins. The 22-count indictment, made public Wednesday, names Darryl "Rush" Pierre, 20, of Merchantville; his sister Shaniqua "Shik" Pierre, 19, of Deptford; Clive "Live" Hinds, 19, of Maple Shade; Kuasheim "Presto" Powell, 25, Dennis "Hitman" Welch, 20, and Lance "Crunch" Fulton, all of Camden; Keenan "Buddy" Wideman, 18, and David "Demo" Hardwick, 18, both of Pennsauken; and Peter "Stumpy" Leonce, 18, of New York.

Shatara Carter, 15, of Camden, pleaded guilty last year to aggravated manslaughter and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.


Contact staff writer Barbara Boyer at 856-779-3838 or bboyer@phillynews.com.

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