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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Last week, Merwin Raheem Herbert "Poncho" White, 21, the leader of the G-Shyne Bloods, was convicted of murder and other charges largely on testimony from other gang members, including Hargrove.

13:21 |

:Text may be subject to copyright.This blog does not claim copyright to any such text. Copyright remains with the original copyright holder A longtime Richmond-area gang member whose testimony last week helped prosecutors win convictions and a recommendation of life in prison against the gang's leader walked free Thursday from the Henrico County Jail.

William D. Hargrove, 19, one of four gang defendants facing murder, robbery, weapons and conspiracy charges, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and was released for time served. Last week, Merwin Raheem Herbert "Poncho" White, 21, the leader of the G-Shyne Bloods, was convicted of murder and other charges largely on testimony from other gang members, including Hargrove.
Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor stressed Thursday that charges against Hargrove in the case were not strong, that he had been truthful and forthcoming from the day of his arrest, and that he was a peripheral and unwilling participant in G-Shyne crimes.
"There were no promises made to him" of leniency before the trial last week, she said.
Hargrove, who was known as Kilo, had testified that he was ordered and beaten-in to the G-Shyne operation after White told him that another gang Hargrove was in, Sex Murder Money, was no longer functional.
Hargrove, who had a Henrico address but lived at numerous places in the area, could have faced life in prison himself if convicted on original charges brought by a grand jury in May in the same case involving White.
Hargrove testified that he was part of a plan to punish a gang pretender last year in a robbery that turned to murder.
Quondell Pringle, 22, a small-time drug dealer who worked the Newbridge area of eastern Henrico, angered White, Hargrove and other witnesses said last week. They said White ordered Pringle robbed and possibly killed if he resisted.
Hargrove pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor accessory participation in murder after the fact and to after the fact participation in a robbery. Henrico Circuit Judge Catherine C. Hammond sentenced Hargrove to concurrent 12-month terms, which meant that he was eligible for immediate release because of reduced time and time served in jail already. Jail inmates typically serve half their sentence, and Hargrove had been incarcerated since May.
Hargrove said at trial last week that White was capable of killing anyone who broke from the gang and that he and another man, James B. Pryor, agreed to rob Pringle on White's order. To do otherwise, Hargrove said, could mean his own death.
Hargrove, though, balked at his role of watching Pringle's back, lingering far behind Pryor as Pringle was approached. Hargrove testified that he feared for his life because he hadn't followed White's orders and because of his half-hearted role in Pringle's death, and he said White refused to promote him within the gang's hierarchy.
Shortly after the April 21 murder, Hargrove's home was shot into by unknown assailants, according to evidence in the case. On Thursday in court, during a hearing that lasted less than five minutes, Hargrove turned to Pringle's family and apologized: "I did what I could to make it right," he said.
Taylor and deputy prosecutors Toni M. Randall and Thomas L. Johnson Jr. said after the hearing Thursday that Hargrove had been important to bringing one of the area's most significant gang convictions. While the Pringle family was not pleased with Hargrove's release, Taylor said the family realized the complex dynamics of the case and Hargrove's role in convicting White.
"Will Hargrove was victimized by Merwin White, like so many others," Hargrove's lawyer, Ted Bruns, said after court.
Pryor, who has pleaded guilty to murdering Pringle, is scheduled to be sentenced next month. White, 21, was convicted last week after a three-day jury trial ending in a recommendation that White serve life plus three years. He will be formally sentenced March 7.

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