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United States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
Press Release

May 23, 2011

JURY FINDS AZIBO AQUART GUILTY OF FEDERAL MURDER CHARGES
Death penalty phase of trial to begin on May 27

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, announced that a federal jury in New Haven has found AZIBO AQUART, also known as “Azibo Smith,” “Azibo Siwatu Jahi Smith,” “D,” “Dreddy,” and “Jumbo,” 30, of Bridgeport guilty of the August 24, 2005 murders of Tina Johnson, 43; James Reid, 40, and Basil Williams, 54.  The trial before United States District Judge Janet Bond Arterton began on April 20 and the jury returned the verdicts today after approximately three hours of deliberations.

According to the evidence disclosed during the 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 Tina Johnson, a resident of 215 Charles Street who sometimes sold smaller quantities of crack cocaine without the approval of AQUART.  On the morning of August 24, 2005, AQUART and others entered Johnson’s apartment, bound Johnson, her boyfriend James Reid and friend Basil 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.  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.  Finally, AQUART was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”).

AQUART faces a mandatory lifetime term of imprisonment.  The government is seeking the death penalty, and the presentation in evidence in the death penalty phase of the trial is scheduled to begin on Friday, May 27.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bridgeport Police Department, Connecticut State Police, Connecticut Department of Correction’s Intelligence Unit, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, United States Marshals Service, Bridgeport States Attorney’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy L. Dayton, Peter D. Markle, Alina P. Reynolds of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, and Trial Attorney Jacabed Rodriguez-Coss of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Capital Case Unit.

 

CONTACT:

 

U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Tom Carson
(203) 821-3722
thomas.carson@usdoj.gov

 

 

 

 

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