A federal jury on Friday convicted a Newport News man in the slaying of a 21-year-old who swindled him in a drug trade.
Following a five-day trial at U.S. District Court in Newport News, the jury found Dawhan T. Archible, 27, guilty of use of a firearm resulting in death and four related charges.
Archible was convicted in the January 2017 killing of Luke Patterson Dudley, whose body was found in a rooming house he was living in on Madison Avenue. He had been shot at least 12 times.
Prosecutors said the slaying was in retribution for Dudley giving fake drugs to Archible earlier in the day.
Dudley was supposed to give him Percocet, a prescription painkiller, in return for crack cocaine. But according to witness testimony, Dudley gave Archible sugar cubes instead of Percocet.
Archible was high, and didn’t notice at first that he was duped. But later that night, others saw the sugar cubes in a baggie and told Archible.
Archible, a self-described “boss” in the Bloods street gang, was angry at being tricked and he and two other men walked about six blocks to the four-bedroom rooming house. While one of the three men waited outside as the lookout, Archible and the other man forced open the front door, then broke two other doors inside.
“They found Dudley, who was already high on drugs, in his room and confronted him about the fake drugs,” a prosecution document said.
One of the men hit Dudley with a gun, prosecutors said, and they forced him upstairs in search of the drugs in another resident’s bedroom.
Police were called later in the day about a burglary at the home. They found Dudley’s body in the ransacked bedroom.
There’s a dispute, however, over which of the two intruders shot and killed Dudley, or whether both did. A prosecution witness testified that Archible told him that he shot Dudley, then handed the gun to the other man to fire more shots.
But Archible testified at trial last week that he gave the other man his gun back before the shooting, thinking they were just going to leave the home. Instead, he testified, the other man began shooting.
Archible’s lead attorney, Fernando Groene, said the government’s witness who pegged Archible as the shooter “was a career criminal until he became a career informant,” paid for providing information.
Groene pointed out that Archible willingly spoke to investigators twice, always providing a consistent story, and maintains that he “never told the career criminal that he was the shooter.”
Archible explained on the stand that he took two others with him when he went to the house because he didn’t know what they would encounter when they got there. Neither of the other two men — the lookout or the other intruder — has been charged.
Archible cut himself on his way into the home, with blood found at the scene matching him. The weapon was never found.
Archible was convicted of all five charges: use of a firearm resulting in death, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, attempted robbery, drug conspiracy and distribution of crack cocaine. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on the killing, and up to 20 years apiece on each of the other four counts.
Archible’s other lawyer, Jimmy Ellenson, said that under the prosecution’s theory of the case, Archible could have been found guilty of the “use of a firearm resulting in death” charge even if he wasn’t the shooter.
But the contention that he wasn’t the shooter was a crucial one to make. “It’s certainly our hope that the judge sees it that way,” he said, saying it’s important “that the judge has a complete picture when he sentences.”
Dudley’s father, Billy Dudley, 60, said the jury’s verdict was an emotional moment, leading to tears of relief.
“It was very, very emotional,” he said. “It’s been four years and about 63 days since my son was killed. So it’s been a while, and we just trusted in the Lord. We trusted that justice would be done.”
The family, including Dudley’s parents, his girlfriend and one of his brother’s watched the five-day trial on a video feed in a downstairs courtroom.
Luke Dudley, the fifth of the family’s six boys, grew up in North Carolina and then Puerto Rico, where his parents moved as Christian missionaries, and was bilingual and active in football.
But he struggled with drug addiction, and the family had him move to Hampton Roads to work at his brother’s flooring business in Hampton.
But the slaying, Billy Dudley said, “was the result of just some really bad choices” — including his own son’s choices — “that resulted in my son being killed.”
He leaves behind one child, a 4-year-old boy.
“We pray for this man as well for him to get saved,” Billy Dudley said of Archible. “He is a sinner like everyone else. And he needs to know, the Lord died for (his) sins as well. So we pray for his salvation.”
The Dudley family, he said, is also praying for Archible’s parents. “Because this is hard for them,” Dudley said. “It’s a loss. And so they feel a lot of the same emotions that we do. We feel bad for them, and we pray for them.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 10.
Peter Dujardin, 757-247-4749, firstname.lastname@example.org