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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Kuasheim Powell, 24, who was arrested in Long Beach, Calif., was charged in the killings of Michael Hawkins, 23, and Muriah Ashley Huff, 18

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Kuasheim Powell, 24, who was arrested in Long Beach, Calif., was charged in the killings of Michael Hawkins, 23, and Muriah Ashley Huff, 18, on the afternoon of Feb. 22 in his home on the 500 block of Berkley Street in Camden. Powell is the 10th person to be charged with murder in connection with the killings.Hawkins, of Mount Holly, and Huff, of Cinnaminson, were beaten for hours, authorities said. Acting on a tip, Camden police discovered them buried in a snowy backyard grave. Powell is accused of shooting Hawkins in the head "five to six times" with a small-caliber gun, according to Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office. He also is charged in participating in the strangulation death of Huff.Others charged include four minors, one of them a 14-year-old Camden girl. All of the suspects for whom there were warrants have been arrested, Laughlin said. "We won't rule out the possibility of other charges being brought against other people, or additional charges being brought against people already in custody," he said.Dennis Welch, 19, of Camden, is accused of attempting to cover up the crime scene by scrubbing the walls of the home with bleach and ripping up bloodstained carpets, authorities said. Powell lived in the Berkley Street house with Welch, authorities said.Lance Fulton, 19, of Camden, who has been charged in the murder of Hawkins and who is in North Carolina pending extradition, rented a room in the house this year, his mother said.
The mother of another suspect said her 17-year-old son dated the 14-year-old girl who has been charged. The girl also lived in the house.County property records list Yehuda Klein of New York as owner of the property. A woman who answered his telephone number on Monday declined to comment. Huff and Hawkins were killed in a dispute between factions of the Bloods and Crips street gangs, sources said.
Powell's street name was Presto and he was a member of the Bloods, said parents of some of the accused. "If you believe what we've learned from the state investigation, which is still ongoing, Presto is a reputed gang leader who may have had a motive for killing Hawkins," said David Bahuriak, the attorney for one of the juveniles.
Hawkins was a member of the Crips, said Michal Ramos, a classmate of Huff's at Burlington County Institute of Technology. "Everybody that knew she was dating him knew that he was in the gang," Ramos said last week.Huff, a cosmetology student who aspired to own a salon, did not know anyone in the house that day, Laughlin said. She was buried on Monday.Powell is being held in California pending extradition.

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