Federal Jury Convicts Block Burners Of Drug Trafficking, Robbery And Murder
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Four Lansing men were convicted of drug trafficking, armed robbery and first degree murder in U.S. District court in Grand Rapids late Wednesday afternoon, announced U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. The men—Charles Kunta Lewis, age 36, Wallee Abdullazeem Al-Din, age 24, his brother, Mustafa Al-Din, age 25, and Ralphael Crenshaw, age 24, were tried by a jury before U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker. After a two-week trial, the jury convicted the defendants of conspiring to commit drug trafficking crimes and robbery, and using a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime resulting in murder. The four defendants were found guilty of abducting and murdering Lansing resident Shayla Johnson, age 19, in an effort to obtain drugs. This charge carries a maximum term of life in prison.
Evidence at trial established that the defendants were members and associates of a violent Lansing street gang known as the Block Burners. The prosecution’s evidence demonstrated that during one six-week span in the summer of 2010, the defendants were involved in a violent pattern of robbing and at times beating victims for drugs, money and other valuable items. Their violent conduct culminated in the kidnaping and first degree murder of Shayla Johnson. The defendants wrongly believed Shayla Johnson had access to a large amount of marijuana plants. The defendants planned to kidnap her in order to compel her to disclose the location of the marijuana plants. Acting on their plan the defendants entered her home, forced her from her bedroom, and brutally shoved her into the trunk of a vehicle. When Ms. Johnson fought back, she was fatally shot multiple times with an assault rifle.
In the fall of 2010, the Ingham County Prosecutors Office sought the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the prosecution of the matter because of serious concerns over allegations of obstruction and intimidation by gang members. The decision was made to transfer the case to federal court for prosecution. The case was investigated by the Lansing Police Department, the Meridian Township Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy P. VerHey and Brian K. Delaney. No sentencing date has yet been announced.