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Gang members guilty in beating

ALBANY -- It took a jury about an hour to find three members of the Black Gangster Disciples guilty of aggravated assault and street gang terrorism Tuesday.

Another gang member pleaded guilty and the fifth plans to also plead guilty, said Greg Edwards, district attorney for the Dougherty Judicial Circuit.

"I am especially happy that the jury disregarded the background of the victim and the witnesses," Edwards said. "I was happy to see the jury followed the law to bring justice to everyone."

Facing a possible 35 years each in prison, Austin Dowdell, 21, his brother Hadji Dowdell, 28, and Manasseh Skinner, 24, are in the Dougherty County Jail, a jail spokeswoman said.

Austin Dowdell also faces sentencing on gun charges for having a concealed .22-caliber handgun at the time, Edwards said. The gun charges could add two years to the 35 he faces on the other charges.

Sentencing for the three is scheduled for March 26. Arsenio Jones, 18, pleaded guilty and has yet to have his sentencing scheduled, the district attorney said.

The last person arrested for viciously beating Carvetta Moore at the Sports Zone bar on North Slappey Boulevard last July, Willie Simmons, 23, also plans to plead guilty in connection with the crime, Edwards said.

Giving credit where credit is due, Albany Police Department Cpl. Ryan Jenkins of the gang unit said the arrests were made the same night as the attack due to witness testimony and uniform police officers acting quickly.

"People came forward and told officers where the guys went," Jenkins said. "Along with the other gang members waiting trial for murder, putting these five away really dents the gang organization."

There are nine Black Gangster Disciples in jail awaiting trial on charges ranging from gang participation to murder in connection with the June 23 beating death of Reginald Richardson. Richardson died as a result of a beating that was required as a gang initiation.

In 2009 the gang unit made more than 400 arrests on charges including murder, aggravated assault, robbery, battery and other crimes.