After long fits and starts, federal gang conspiracy trial against ‘O-Block’ gang moves to closing arguments (2024)

Prosecutors on Friday presented closing arguments in the racketeering case of six purported gang members charged with carrying out the brazen, broad-daylight murder of drill rapper FBG Duck in the Gold Coast in August 2020 as part of a deadly, yearslong conflict between two South Side gang factions.

“They didn’t all pull the trigger, but when they learned where Carlton Weekly was that day, they all sprung into action to make sure Carlton Weekly never left Oak Street alive,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Marie Ursini told jurors, referring to the rapper by his real name. “They knew they had a window of opportunity to take out a high-level rival, and they acted on it so they didn’t lose that window.”

The closing arguments got underway Friday after about two months of trial testimony from more than 30 witnesses. Before the trial began — in the ceremonial courtroom on the 25th floor of the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse — the case was dogged by months of pretrial delays.

In the October 2021 indictment, prosecutors alleged members and associates of “O-Block” traveled from the Parkway Gardens apartment complex at 64th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to Oak Street to find Weekly and kill him. Security video recorded at Parkway Gardens, along with scores of police surveillance cameras, allegedly shows the defendants travel to the Gold Coast and carry out the shooting before driving off.

The shooting came just weeks after Weekly released a song that mocked the deaths of several O-Block members. Throughout her presentation, Ursini focused on the highly personal and violent taunts lobbed between the rival sides, salvos often delivered on social media or via music videos posted to YouTube.

The men charged in Weekly’s death are all purportedly members or associates of O-Block, a rival faction of Black Disciples based in the Parkway Garden housing complex.

Charged with murder in furtherance of racketeering are Charles Liggins, 32; Kenneth Roberson, 30; Christopher Thomas, 24; Marcus Smart, 25; Tacarlos Offerd, 32; and Ralph Turpin, 34. Each defendant faces up to life in prison if convicted.

After long fits and starts, federal gang conspiracy trial against ‘O-Block’ gang moves to closing arguments (1)

Before Ursini began, U.S. District Judge Martha Pacold urged members of the public seated in the courtroom to remain quiet throughout the proceedings, and to consider if the replaying of surveillance footage that showed Weekly’s murder would be too upsetting to see.

“Because of what’s involved in the case … that type of evidence can be, understandably, difficult to watch,” Pacold said.

Soon after, Ursini played a video that showed three men shooting FBG Duck 16 times less than 30 minutes after, she alleged, another of the defendants first spotted Weekly as he was shopping for a gift for his son.

As Ursini delivered her argument, Morris Pasqual, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, listened along in an overflow courtroom.

“You could write a book about this case,” he said.

Steve Greenberg, Roberson’s attorney, gave the first closing statement for the defendants. He called on jurors to consider the motivations of prosecution witnesses, some of whom received financial compensation or leeway in other criminal cases.

“Liars don’t become truthful just because they take an oath to tell the truth,” Greenberg said. “The people testifying, in large part, I don’t think they really care about that. I don’t think an oath means anything to them.”

Closing arguments for the other defendants, as well as the prosecution’s rebuttal, will resume next week.

FBG Duck — a member of the STL faction of Gangster Disciples — was hit with 16 bullets as he shopped on East Oak Street on Aug. 4, 2020. His killing came just weeks after he released a song titled “Dead Bitches,” a so-called diss track that mocked the deaths of several affiliates of O-Block.

The faction’s name is an homage to Odee Perry, a member of the gang shot to death in 2011.

On the afternoon he was killed, Weekly was shopping on Oak Street when he was spotted by Turpin, who alerted his gang associates who wanted Weekly dead, according to prosecutors.

After long fits and starts, federal gang conspiracy trial against ‘O-Block’ gang moves to closing arguments (2)

Surveillance images captured the other five defendants jumping into two cars in Parkway Gardens at 64th and King and heading to the Gold Coast, where they shot Weekly 16 times and wounded two others, according to the charges.

Two bystanders were also wounded in the shooting, and four of the seven counts in the indictment stem from those injuries.

According to prosecutors, O-Block publicly claimed responsibility for acts of violence — including Weekly’s slaying — and used social media and rap lyrics to boast about killing rivals to increase their criminal enterprise.

Prosecutors have said King Von, an O-Block-affiliated rapper, put a bounty on Weekly’s head after the release of the diss track. King Von, whose real name was Dayvon Bennett, was shot to death in Atlanta in November 2020.

After long fits and starts, federal gang conspiracy trial against ‘O-Block’ gang moves to closing arguments (2024)

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