Man to Spend Minimum of 92½ Years in State Prison for Shootings
(FREEHOLD) A high ranking member of the Sex, Money, Murder set of the Bloods criminal street gang will spend the rest of his life in state prison after he was sentenced by a Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Wednesday on charges of Murder, Attempted Murder and Racketeering in connection with a 2006 Long Branch homicide, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Carl J. Holdren, a/k/a “Killa,” 25, of Lakewood, and a “lieutenant” in the Sex, Money, Murder set of the Bloods street gang, was sentenced to Life in prison on the first degree charge of Murder. The sentence is subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence before he is eligible for parole, or 63¾ years. Holdren was convicted in August 2013 for the murder of Michael Montgomery following a six-week trial in the courtroom of Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci, Jr., J.S.C
Additionally, Holdren was sentenced to a concurrent, extended-term sentence of 25 years in state prison on first degree Attempted Murder in a New Jersey state prison, for the shooting of Keith Logan; a consecutive, extended-term sentence of 25 years on the charge of first degree Attempted Murder, subject to the provisions of NERA, or 21¼ years; and a consecutive, extended-term sentence of 15 years on the charge of first degree Racketeering, subject to the terms of NERA, or 7 ½ years.
The total sentence meted out by Judge Mellaci requires Holdren to serve a minimum of 92½ years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
During his court hearing on Wednesday, Holdren told Judge Mellaci that he felt “terrible” about what he did and has been trying to better himself while he has been in jail. “I associated myself with bad people,” said Holdren.
Mellaci, who has seen many cases like this over his career, said that Holdren has shown no remorse prior to the sentencing and portrayed himself throughout the trial and on videotapes as a tough guy with an attitude.
“You came across as a hard-nosed, down and out killer, and I don’t mean lady killer,” said Mellaci. He said that Holdren was a killer. “Who has no respect for life and would shoot somebody as fast as someone else might say hello to them.”
The prosecution was a partnership between the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the state Division of Criminal Justice, Office of the Attorney General. The case was prosecuted jointly by Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Jacquelynn F. Seely and New Jersey Deputy Attorney General Daniel Bornstein.
“This sentence should send a strong message to every member of a criminal street gang and the community as a whole: You are not going to get away with murder, and your version of street justice will end with the real justice of time spent on the inside of our state’s prison walls,” Gramiccioni said.
Holdren was convicted in August 2013 of the Nov. 21, 2006, double shooting of Michael Montgomery and Keith Logan on Hendrickson Street in Long Branch. Michael Montgomery, a confirmed member of the Brick City Brim set of the Bloods street gang, died as a result of a single gunshot wound to his hip. The intended target of the shooting, Keith Logan, a confirmed member of the G-Shine set of the Bloods street gang, received a single gunshot wound to the abdomen but survived. Evidence adduced at trial revealed that Holdren, along with two other men, Qumere McClendon and Valdo Thompson played a role in the double shooting.
“Holdren’s shooting spree began with the fatal ambush of one rival gang member and the wounding of a second, and it would have continued with the murder of another rival if the State Police had not uncovered that plot and arrested him,” said New Jersey Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “This sentence ends Holdren’s deadly spree once and for all by ensuring that he will spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Holdren conviction and sentencing closes another chapter in a spate of crimes that culminated with authorities charging six men with gang-related activity involving a variety of crimes in Monmouth and Ocean counties, including two murders in the City of Long Branch in less than one month.
“Holdren’s propensity for violence made him a major danger to the people in the Shore communities where he and his gang operated,” said Director Elie Honig of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice. “He is behind bars thanks to the outstanding work of the investigators who dismantled this gang at the height of its reign of terror and the prosecutors who skillfully presented the case against him at trial.”
The crimes were committed from just before Thanksgiving to the day prior to New Years Eve 2006, by Holdren and his associates: Zackery Butts, a/k/a “Zoo,” 28, of Freehold; Paul Lewis, a/k/a “P-Lew,” 25, of Long Branch; Qumere McClendon, a/k/a “Tragedy,” 27, of Long Branch; Darnell Stovall, a/k/a “D-Nell,” 26, of Long Branch; and Valdo Thompson, a/k/a “SB” and “Soldier Boy,” 27, of Jackson.
A cooperative investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, State Attorney General’s Office, New Jersey State Police, Long Branch Police Department and Lakewood Police Department led to the charges and indictment against all the defendants. McClendon, Stovall and Lewis were charged with the murder of Keith Mason on Dec. 12, 2006, in Long Branch. McClendon, Holdren and Thompson were charged with the murder of Michael Montgomery and the attempted murder of Keith Logan in Long Branch on Nov. 21, 2006. Holdren and Thompson were also charged with Conspiracy to Commit and Attempting to Commit the Murder of Michael Stallworth on Dec. 28, 2006, in Lakewood. Zachery Butts was charged with Possession of a Handgun for an Unlawful Purpose.
All of the men also faced Racketeering or Conspiracy charges during this time period due to their involvement with the Bloods street gang and associated criminal behavior.
Qumere McClendon and Valdo Thompson were also charged in the Montgomery-Logan shooting homicide. Thompson pleaded guilty on Nov. 21, 2013, to charges of Murder, Attempted Murder, Conspiracy to Commit Murder and Racketeering. He is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 27, 2014 before Judge Mellaci.
McClendon pleaded guilty to charges related to the Montgomery/Logan shooting and was convicted at trial for the homicide of Keith Mason committed on Dec. 14, 2006. In the Mason homicide, Qumere McClendon, Darnell Stovall and Paul Lewis planned a home-invasion style armed robbery of Keith Mason who lived on Second Avenue in Long Branch. During the robbery, McClendon shot Keith Mason once in the chest in front of Mason’s young son. McClendon, Stovall and Lewis all fled the scene and left Mason dying on his kitchen floor. Mason’s small child, who was not physically injured during the crime, was left alone with his dying father.
The trial involving the murder of Keith Mason was also presided over by Judge Mellaci. Assistant Prosecutor Jacquelynn F. Seely of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Assistant Attorney General Philip Aronow prosecuted the case for the State.
At the conclusion of that trial in January 2011, Qumere McClendon was found guilty of first degree Felony Murder, first degree Armed Robbery, second degree Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery, second degree Armed Burglary, second degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and second degree Certain Persons Not to Possess a Firearm.
McClendon was sentenced by Judge Mellaci on May 3, 2011, to an aggregate sentence of 55 years in state prison with a 40 year period of parole ineligibility. Subsequently on Dec. 19, 2011, McClendon pled to first degree Conspiracy to Murder (Keith Logan). He was sentenced on Feb. 24, 2012, by Judge Mellaci to 20 years in state prison, subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA) requiring he serve a minimum of 85 percent of that sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The sentence was to run concurrent to the earlier sentence.
Darnell Stovall pled guilty on May 12, 2011, to the following: first degree Armed Robbery (Keith Mason), second degree Conspiracy to Commit Robbery and Burglary, second degree Possession of Weapon for Unlawful Purpose, second degree Burglary, and third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Pursuant to the terms of Stovall’s plea agreement, Judge Mellaci sentenced him to a state prison term of 22 years on Aug. 12, 2011. His sentence is subject to NERA, and therefore, Stovall must serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before he will be eligible for release on parole.
Paul Lewis pled guilty on March 19, 2009, to the following: first degree Armed Robbery (Keith Mason), second degree Conspiracy to Commit Robbery and Burglary, second degree Possession of Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, second degree Burglary, and third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child. On Aug. 26, 2011, Judge Mellaci sentenced him to a state prison term of 15 years. Pursuant to NERA, Lewis must serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before he will be eligible for release on parole.
Evidence presented during trial revealed tensions between the Sex, Money, Murder set of the Bloods criminal street gang and a rival set of the Bloods criminal street gang resulted in an attempt to kill Michael Stallworth of Lakewood, on Dec. 28, 2006. As part of the investigation, New Jersey State Police learned of the impending murder through a court authorized electronic intercept and took action to stop the homicide. With the assistance of the Lakewood Police Department, a motor vehicle stop was conducted on Zachery Butts’ vehicle, and a loaded .45 caliber handgun was found inside. Butts was on his way to deliver the weapon to Holdren. A part of Holdren’s sentence today is for the attempt on Stallworth’s life.
Zachery Butts pled guilty on June 19, 2008, to second degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in connection with the attempt on Michael Stallworth’s life. Pursuant to the terms of Butts’ plea agreement, Judge Mellaci sentenced him on Feb. 4, 2011, to a state prison term of 8 years with a 4-year period of parole ineligibility.
With the exception of Valdo Thompson, who will be sentenced next week, all of the men are serving lengthy jail sentences for their roles in these crimes. The terms of the co-defendants’ plea agreements were reached after consultation with, and with the approval of, the families of the victims of the homicides.
Valdo Thompson, Jr. is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 27, 2014, before Judge Mellaci. At the time of his guilty plea, Thompson admitted he was leader of the Sex, Money, Murder set in Monmouth and Ocean Counties at the time these crimes occurred. Thompson pleaded guilty to: Racketeering, Conspiracy to Murder (Keith Logan), Attempted Murder (Keith Logan), Murder (Michael Montgomery), Conspiracy to Murder (Michael Stallworth) and Attempted Murder (Michael Stallworth), all first degree crimes.
Carl Holdren is represented by Adam Weisberg, Esq., of Ocean Township, Monmouth County. Valdo Thompson is represented by Robert Tarver, Esq., of Toms River. Qumere McClendon was represented by Ruben Scolavino, Esq., of Freehold. Darnell Stovall was represented by James Kinarney, Esq., of Freehold. Paul Lewis was represented by Barry Shapiro, Esq. (retired) and John Perrone, Esq. of Long Branch. Zachery Butts was represented by Steve Nelson, Esq., of Neptune.