Gang ties at issue in Albany murder case

Pretrial hearing offers picture of 2006 shooting outside tavern

ROBERT GAVIN Staff writer
Section: Capital Region,  Page: B4

Date: Saturday, March 1, 2008

ALBANY - Gang retribution led to the 2006 slaying of a man who was shot to death as he celebrated his 24th birthday outside a city tavern, a prosecutor said Friday.

The alleged shooter, Dushan Wilson, 18, of Colonie, was identified in Albany County Court as a reputed member of the Jungle Junkies street gang, based in Arbor Hill and West Hill. Wilson, also known as "Lil Du," possessed a sweat shirt in his home paying homage to the gang and appeared on a rap video featuring members of the outfit, said Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Boland. Albany County Judge Thomas Breslin ruled both items will be open to discussion in court next week when Wilson goes on trial in connection with the murder of Elleek Williams, 24, who was killed just after midnight May 16, 2006, outside Yana's Grill at Lexington and Sheridan avenues.

Jury selection in the case begins Monday. Friday's pretrial hearing was held to determine what evidence will be allowed in open court.

Williams, who had just turned 24, exited the bar for a smoke when he was repeatedly shot in the upper and lower torso. He had hung around members of the South End-based OGK gang, which stands for Original Gangsta Killas, Boland said.

The killing, prosecutors said, was an example of a long simmering feud between uptown and downtown gangs. The victim's mother agreed.

"It's clearly all gang-related," said Williams' mother, Allison Banks, who now sits on Albany's Gun Violence Task Force and is the co-leader of the Capital Region's chapter of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

She added, "At the end of my son's life, he stepped out of that circle."

Banks planned to visit her son's grave before the trial.

Wilson defense attorney Gaspar Castillo contested the gang allegation Friday, hoping to keep it from the trial. He successfully argued to keep other past crimes, such as unauthorized use of a car, from being mentioned. But Breslin's ruling gives the prosecution more to work with as it seeks a conviction.