Lawyer: Prep Sports Could Have Prevented Murder Spree has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)


A Portsmouth man may never have joined a gang — and been involved in two homicides — if he'd only been allowed to play high school football.

That was one of the points defense attorneys argued in court documents as they asked a federal judge to impose an agreed-upon, 45-year sentence Tuesday morning for their client, Alvaughn "LB" Davis.

But it's also an argument Davis' former coach at King's Fork High School put forth. According to court documents, Cecil Phillips asked the Suffolk school system during Davis' freshman year to overlook a self-imposed rule requiring a 2.0 grade-point average for participation in extracurricular activities. He noted that Davis met the Virginia High School League's lower standard, which requires only that an athlete pass the equivalent of five classes during the semester.

"We knew if we lost a kid to that 2.0 rule that the streets would swallow them up, and we would never get them back," Phillips told the defense, according to the documents.

Attempts to reach Phillips, who is now coaching at Amherst County High School near Lynchburg, by phone and email were unsuccessful.

Most public school systems in South Hampton Roads require athletes to maintain a 2.0 in high school.

Davis, 29, and fellow gang member Anthony Foye pleaded guilty earlier this year to felonies related to a bloody 18-day crime spree across Hampton Roads that claimed the lives of five people and left four others injured.

Foye confessed to personally killing four people in exchange for a life sentence. Davis, a more senior member of the gang, confessed to helping Foye and others with some of the homicides.

Charges are pending against three others arrested in connection to the spree: Antonio Simmons, Nathaniel Mitchell and Malek Lassiter.

According to court documents, the five men were members or associates of the Nine Trey Gangsters, an affiliate of the United Bloods Nation that operated primarily in Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Norfolk. Of the five, Simmons held the highest rank in the gang.

The crime spree claimed the lives of Al-Tariq Tynes, 27; Vandalet Mercer, 27; Linda Lassiter, 49; Wayne Davis, 49; and Jamesha Roberts, 25.

Alvaughn Davis helped dispose of Tynes' body, which was found in January 2016 in a Chesapeake ditch, court documents said. The month before in Portsmouth, they said, he served as a getaway driver following the shooting death of Mercer and a nonfatal shooting that targeted the ex-girlfriend of a man who headed another Nine Trey Gangsters set.

There was little question about how U.S. District Judge Mark Davis would rule Tuesday because Davis' plea agreement required the 45-year sentence.

Still, defense attorneys Timothy Quick and Fernando Groene laid out their client's often tragic childhood in court documents. The attorneys noted that Davis' father was involved in two simultaneous romantic relationships when his client was born, and that both relationships were producing children.

The father eventually married the other woman, leaving Davis' mother to care for him and his little brother, they said.

The attorneys said Davis was sometimes homeless as a child. At the age of 6, he was sometimes tasked with caring for his little brother while his mother worked. And at 13, he was caught in the crossfire and shot twice when men opened fire around him.

In all, Davis attended eight public schools before dropping out. During that time, he repeated the third, seventh, eighth and 11th grades.

The attorneys said football gave Davis motivation to attend school, not to mention a distraction from his home life. But then, they said, he was barred from playing for Phillips.

Soon after, they said, Davis began spending time with a neighbor who introduced him to gang life.

In court documents, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Bosse agreed Davis' formative years were extraordinarily difficult. He added that Davis has tried to do some good with his life, including caring for his ailing grandparents and teaching football to young boys, ages 5 to 7. He was an assistant coach with the Bennett's Creek Warriors Tiny-Mite football team.

But, Bosse said, that doesn't make up for all the violence he has taken part in while working with the Nine Trey Gangsters.

"Nothing about his family background explains or mitigates the crimes he chose to commit," Bosse said.

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October 18, 2017


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