WASHINGTON - A federal jury in New Haven, Conn., today voted unanimously to impose the federal death penalty against Azibo Aquart for his role in the murder of three individuals, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David B. Fein for the District of Connecticut.
On May 23, 2011, the jury found Aquart, aka “Azibo Smith,” “Azibo Siwatu Jahi Smith,” “D,” “Dreddy” and “Jumbo,” 30, of Bridgeport, Conn., guilty of the Aug. 24, 2005, murders of Tina Johnson, 43; James Reid, 40; and Basil Williams, 54. The trial, before U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton, began on April 20, 2011. The jury voted to impose the federal death penalty on four of the six counts of conviction. The court has not yet scheduled a date for imposition of the sentence.
According to the evidence submitted at trial, Aquart was the founder and leader of a drug trafficking group that primarily sold crack cocaine out of an apartment building located at 215 Charles Street in Bridgeport. Aquart and his associates participated in acts of violence, such as threats and assaults, to maintain their control over the group’s drug distribution activities at the Charles Street apartments. In the summer of 2005, Aquart and his associates became involved in a drug trafficking dispute with Johnson at the Charles Street apartments. According to evidence submitted at trial, Johnson sometimes sold smaller quantities of crack cocaine without the approval of Aquart.
According to the evidence submitted at trial, on the morning of Aug. 24, 2005, Aquart and others entered Johnson’s apartment, bound Johnson, her boyfriend Reid, and her friend Williams with duct tape and brutally beat the victims to death with baseball bats. Aquart and others then drilled the front door of the apartment shut from the inside.
In addition to witness testimony, the government offered extensive forensic evidence gathered from Johnson’s apartment, including fingerprints and evidence that contained DNA from Aquart and his co-conspirators. According to evidence presented at trial, Aquart’s fingerprint was found on a piece of duct tape recovered from the crime scene.
The jury found Aquart guilty of conspiring to commit murder in aid of racketeering and committing the racketeering murders of Johnson, Reid and Williams. The jury also found Aquart guilty of committing three counts of drug-related murder, and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (crack cocaine).
This case was investigated by the FBI; the Bridgeport Police Department; the Connecticut State Police; the Connecticut Department of Correction’s Intelligence Unit; U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Bridgeport State Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy L. Dayton, Peter D. Markle and Alina P. Reynolds of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, and Trial Attorney Jacabed Rodriguez-Coss of the Criminal Division’s Capital Case Unit.