Twenty years later, the facts of this Denver drive-by don't add up

Twenty years later, the facts of this Denver drive-by don't add up
Keith Negley

It has been a long time now. Twenty-two years this week. Long enough for the whole episode to be forgotten by the cops, the lawyers and just about everybody else. But to three graying convicts and their families, it's still unfinished business, a problem that has to be solved.

Eric Lightner remembers that night like it was yesterday. Sitting in a sparse prison visiting room with brothers Brian and William Lee, he goes over it all again:

It's just past three in the morning on June 14, 1992, a frenetic Saturday night fading into a somber Sunday morning. Brian, 22 years old, is at the wheel of his blue 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass with the gold rims, headed east on Martin Luther King Boulevard, headed home. Eric, 21, is in the passenger seat. William, a month shy of 19, is in the back.

Approaching Steele Street, they roll up next to a 1981 Chevrolet Malibu Classic wagon. Lightner looks over at the driver, Damon Roberts, also known as D-Dog, a member of the 187 AK (Anybody Killer) Gangster Crips. Roberts glares back.

"I don't know what was said," Lightner says. "We had the music up kind of loud, and the music in Roberts's car was even louder. He looked like he was upset. His face was frowned up, his mouth was moving. We knew it was hostile."

"He said, 'What y'all wanna do? This is Crip,'" adds William Lee. "I said, 'Fuck Crip.' I don't know if he heard me or not."

"Personally, I didn't really know Damon Roberts," Lightner says. "According to the police, there were four people in that car, but I didn't see them. I just saw him."

Lightner saw D-Dog, and then he saw a gun in D-Dog's hand. Of that he is certain. "I see Damon Roberts reaching down, like he's trying to get something from under the seat," he says. "Then I see the handle of the gun in his hand."

It's a moment frozen in time — a moment of decision, one of those forks in the road from which there is no turning back. The actions of the next few seconds changed everything.

When it was over, the Malibu wagon stood idle near Madison Street, with two flat tires and five bullet holes along the driver's side. Damon Roberts sat in the street clutching at his left thigh, bleeding from a gunshot wound. One of his passengers, 15-year-old Tiffany Locke, flagged down cars, calling out frantically for an ambulance. Another, Robert McGregor, also 15, looked in disbelief at the body of his 23-year-old cousin, James, in the back seat, dead from a single shot to the heart.

To the Denver press, the shooting was a drive-by crime of the times, one more senseless killing in a city in the throes of gang violence. It seemed to fit a familiar pattern: bellicose young men from rival sets square off, eye-fuck each other, bandy insults or flash signs — and then the gats come out. More young lives ruined or cut short, another occasion for mourning and soul-searching in east Denver's African-American community. Prosecutors would argue that the killing of James McGregor was, in fact, one of the more heinous acts of gang violence the city had seen up to that point because it was not random at all. They claimed that Lightner and the Lee brothers had gone out looking for Roberts to "do some dirt" — to get payback for an altercation at a club earlier that night between the Crips and members of the Gangsters of Love, a "street gang" associated with the Lees.

Aided by information from eyewitnesses, the Denver police arrested Lightner and the Lees 35 minutes after the shooting. All three were charged with numerous felonies, ranging from murder and conspiracy to second-degree assault. The three went to trial together — a tumultuous proceeding during which several witnesses changed their stories or refused to testify, prompting Denver District Court Judge Richard Spriggs to complain that the courthouse "reeked of perjury." All three were convicted of first-degree murder and are now serving identical sentences of life without parole plus fifty years.

Lightner and the Lees exhausted their legal appeals years ago. They have exemplary records at the Limon Correctional Facility, the high-security prison where they have now spent half their lives. They have matured into quiet, disciplined individuals, respected by other inmates and staff alike. They hope to one day be considered for Colorado's clemency process, a pardon or reduction of their sentence by the governor.

But there's a catch: Clemency candidates are expected to take responsibility for their crimes. William and Brian Lee and Eric Lightner have expressed remorse for what they say is their role in what happened that night 22 years ago, but they insist — and have always insisted — that they didn't kill anyone.

"We're not innocent," says Brian Lee. "We're guilty of being in that thing and shooting at them. But we didn't kill James McGregor. We're sorry as all outdoors for his death. If we could bring him back, we would. But we can't. And we don't want to be in prison the rest of our lives for something we didn't do."

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4 comments
larrywebster303
larrywebster303

The realist, thats only to self to me your a fake I mean your hiding behind a made up name the realist so have you grew up? Does not seem like it.and since smart phone came out everybody canspell accept me, well I spell good enough you understood what I said.and im far from retarded thats what I would of been if I would of let brian lee play me by thinking I was helping them out by lying to help them get freedom after everyone was deceased.im glad there attorney explain to me my consequences if I tried to help 32 year's and that would have been for nothing because as I said I had nothing to due withh that case and what im saying is not for fame or a name but to give the truth to this lie being told by whoever to this writer alan pendagrass and his boss and told them and I mean this.im sueing westward for the lie and mis print by my name.i've already told them if I made a statemeant or testified on some guns please post that.im sure there on pin and needle's hoping I dont sue because this writer published this story without doing his home and I would not be surprised if the realist is not him you dumb fucking writer who would have know'n that I had nothing to due with there first trial, nothing never spoke to nobody nor anybody about this case accept brian, william lee's lawyer as well as eric's, I never spoke to the da or nnobody in there field just brians and thems lawyer and that was way in 1998 when everybody in that car damon roberts rest in peace bro, drove.and like I said that was because of sam des who is the one who came out of no where with new information about this case, which was a fabricated story sam made up with hopes that lie would help the lee brothas and eric lightner, which sam thought would come as some help to add him on his life sentence so brian lee and sam des made a lifer pack, help me and I will try and help you since sam's life sentence was against a family member of good friend of the lee brotha's.anyway they were going to try and frame me but as I said there lawyer which is the only person that I ever talked to about this case and that was in 1998 after all in car was deceased.so place my name as if I was in there first trial testifying or made statements to the police or da. And I never spoke to no police, nor detective as I said and meant just there lawyer while up in limon doing time with them were I told him I had nothing to due with itbut what if andd he clear'ly told me even though everyone is deceased I would get 32yr's.i thought about helping because everyone was deceased when they came to me but when he told me what they tried to hide.and thats the fact I would be charged.fuck that.so I told him I did not have no parts of that case I was not there and I dont no anything and our visit was over so I guess the lawyer told thhem I was not going to help.so they ran up in my cell only to find out im not scary and entered that life ready to die, only thing that can and will have my name with it on the stand in 1998 is I dont no and no I was not there.now alan you sorry muther fucker now you go get those transcripts and you have my permission to post my statement which was my only statement to anybody about this case.which I said I dont ave nothing to due withh that case and I dont no and was not there.so im calling your bluff you muther fucking alan pendagrass yeah im talking to you the writer if you did y I ur home work why did you not state the fact I never had any parts of there firsdt trial and they put me in the last with hopes to use me as a scape goat.and what I said is all real and true. Just how you see that comment and this so can they from brian lee to there mom and dad who like I said tried to pay me to become apart of this case, now im willing to challenge all that I say with a lie detector test now are they willing to do the same in what I said happened.now pleaase dont get me wrong I love them brothas but they wrong to be lifers and making false statements, which that doug jackson said it all they were charged rite and if tiffany shot james or damon they would of known all that by ballestics and test and she would have been in jail.but there were no guns like they said after the car was searched during there traffic stop.i went looking for that doug jackson and im going to find him because im a sue him to if he had any parts of this article beside his statement that he did his job.so to you realist you fucken fag dick ridder you say what.now come at me with the realist name to keep it one hundred gang.lol, you fucken fake as this writer alan pendagrass and im at that ass law suit and yeah im challenging there paper work when it comes to my name.watch how he tries to avoid me and he wont post that because his ass did not due his job and thats study analyze this case.if he did he wouldnt have put none of that by my name he is in trouble you disease infected but im a cure that with a law suit watch.realist so whats your part and take? Now go to my sunday fb, post and see how I inbox sam des way in april and two months later what we text about came out in the westward in june, im showing proof of that and what the topic was that case now thats funny.so good bye and my last comment of the truth.

Realist
Realist

Are you retarded? Do you know what an investigative interview is? Do you know that no one can print a story of this caliber without verifying the facts? Reviewing court documents, transcripts? You say that a lifer had you pinned up in a cell but let you go because you were standing your ground? To fight? Besides the fact that you cant spell and you probably speak the way you write,  your story is what sounds "misleading". I am sure these men are trying to go home. It is very unfortunate that all parties, including yourself, were even caught up in this lifestyle. You did happen to be at a maximum security prison and released. Yah for you, I guess that makes you da man! Yeah right. It is easy to tell a story. Give you money? Give you a car? Hmmm, all of that is to be speculated. Only you can POST this on the internet, not get in touch with the paper and make your story viable. Prove to people that their story could be false. You are bragging about it on Facebook. Really? Facebook? If you were around doing time and being asked "favors" doesnt that make you as old as them? In your 40s. Sounds like you are STILL TRYING to make a name for yourself, just as you tried back then. Its crazy that all of YOUR friends, Tiffany, Sam and others, tried to help these men because they knew/know the truth......just like you! 

larrywebster303
larrywebster303

Who'm ever is telling this story is very mis leading and it's also false.and if one take's the time to read this artiicle they to shall see that the family is so desperate for their freedom that there falsifying the three individuals character.placing them as the good kids on the block, but then a close family member who was used as a witness proved just who they were and what there intentions was that night.and frrom the story the cuz'n gave brian lee, a on a mission and that mission was to kill and damon roberts was the target there prey.damon became hunted and they found his trail that led to a gold chevy malibu station wagon with more than damon inside who was driving and that car would receive 9 bullet hoe's from a true friend of brian lee's, who must of had his friends rage, hate and anger troubeling his heart and mind that needed release and his gun would show just how mad he was by shooting into damons vehicle 9 time's, which were not warning shots but hot's aimed to hurt harm disfigure or take a life like the life was taken of james mcgregor.who's life matter's and means something to those who are still alive nd remember tht y as if it were yesterday.after the ee brother's sentence they were sent up to limon correctional facility were the three stil remain confined for this senseless act of revenge from a fist fight it seeme like the lee brother's and erik lightner, could'nt and would not accept.so james mcgregor, became a victim to their evil and hateful revenge, so in truth james og sneak mcgregor was innocent person tht hppen to be t the wrong plce at the wrong time.sad how iti so easy to overlook the life that was taken and how it was taken by those who did not care who live'd or died that night from the mission to find and kill damon roberrts.i guess in part they kinda complete there mission, because they found there target their pray who were so called gangmember's! Now imagine that school boy's who were supposedly scared affraid of gangmember's are hunting gangmember's down taking the war to a group of people based on color's that suppose to be dangerous group, well on that early morning the lee brother's and erik lightner, took on that challenge not careing about the consequence's of dealing with a large body of people that signed up for death or jail.brian lee's concern and focus was payback at any cost and the price would be a life sentence plus behind bar's, with one more shot at freedom due to appeals.which would come 6yr's later in 1998, were the lee brother's and erik lightner would come up with plan with another lifer doing time for the killing of one of the lee brother's family member or friend.see sam lil sneak des, would write the lee brother's and erik lightner, explaining to them how he could say he was dating tiffany locke, who supposed'ly told hi sam lil sneak des that she accident'ly shot james og sneak mcgregor and supposed'ly got the gun from me larry webster, which was a lie all the way around.well I ended up in limon, in 1996 were I was for two year's when in the beginning in1998 I spoke to brian lee about there case.were he asked me if I could help them off of that life sentence, since everyone that was in the car with damon roberts was deceased.i waas like bro I dont have nothingtto do with that so brian made up a story which he got from sam des.which was to say they came by my house and he asked me for gun and I gave him one and tiffany did it im like what? I told brian I would think about that.well brian could'nt wait so he had his lawyer come and see me wo would ask me if dmon cme by and if I gave him a gun and did tiffany te cause of james mcgregor death.no and no but since there gone wat if I say this brian's lawyer said you would be looking at accesory shit I ended the interview like they got me bent.so a few month's went by and brian lee and william leemust of been mad because the two brother's with another lifer and they were on te clean up crew, which goe's to each unit cleaning sanitizin the bathroom, when the three ran up in my room the , person with two life sentences had the knief out from california as brian lee stood beside him and william holding and watching the cell door which william had almost closed.i immediate'ly jumped out of my bunk scared but ready to fight for my life, words was exchanged and I let them know im not affraid to die and im not goiing any where.after about ten minutes of them seeing I was reaady to battle for my life they walked out my cell.5 months went by I only had 6 months left before my release when I was transferred to 4mile a minimum camp were the second day there I was asked t pack my belongings because I had court.i began explaining that I was done with all court and im doing time for my crimes.anyway while in the transport van on the canon city compound we made a stop at centennial correctional facility were we would pick up sam lil sneak des, who immediately got in the van an explained to me that we were headed to limon to pick up some inmates and he may have a issue with them.im like I just left limon but ok any problems im riding with you.but when we get to limon and pick up the inmates to my surprise it was erik lightner and the lee brother's.im to myself like wtf, is going on with this picture? Was my thought but I didnt say anything I just watched and listened.at no time did anyone tell me we were all going to the same courtroom.so when we get to the county jail the 4 of them went one way and I went another.the next morning I was led into erik lightner and the lee brothers trial.were I was asked if damon roberts came by my house earlier that day and if tiffany killed james og sneak mcgreor, were I said no and I dont no I was not there and had nothing to do with it I was immediately taken down.i saw the saddness in there face mad because they wanted me to lie placing myself envolved in there case trying to use me as there scape goat.thinking if I said yeah I gave tiffany a gun and I did not nor anyone else but that would give me an accesory case which brians lawyer explained to me and if I said what they want me to say I can get up to 32yr''s.shiiit, yaw got me bent I maybe slow but not retarded.lol, anyway when we got back to the county I waited until I heard they were all back from court I sent word and had sam lil sneak des beat up for lying on my dead home girl rip, and trying to get out through trying to use me to help them hep him.a game that many lifers play trying to get out that hell hole.after 20 years I believe the three deserve there freedom, but not by way of lie's and deciet misleading people from what they dont no or maybe remember but I remember it all like it was yesterday.i had to sale my car and some belongings tohelp bury my friend james og sneak mcgregor.you know brian lee parents even tried to pay me to become apart of there sons case offered me brians el comino and 25hundrer cash. Nah! Im cooand I dont roll like that.peace.larry webster, the truth,

larrywebster303
larrywebster303

Dear so called realist, being honest spelling dont make and im sure a smart phone helps you.damn that moment when you dont have it though.lol, anyway im a man who could careless about trying to have or make a name for myself.at the end of the dayit does not add up to nothing and yes I admit I fell but I was able to get up to understand that life is not for me nor any of my brotha's.now dont get me wrong because I do love and respect them brotha's the issue I have with them is the way this article is wrote, wich is a lie, yes false and I will challenge those documents if I testified against anybody, like I said and my fb, wall post is my fact and truth of how I got in the picture which was through sam des in 1998 well after there trial which I also had no part of because I had nothing to due with it.now un like you I have my real name which means I can stand as a man and face it all.so realist why do you hide. Anyway whoever told this story to this writer is a fake who should think about writing misleading books.now who can forget any of those individuals from both sides they mean something rather her nor there.but to overlook the pain we went through and still found way to accept thfem as we did time was hard.and yes what I said about the cell incident they know truth and that is not to brag but to state how real it is in there.but yeah after they had their lawyer come up and they found out I was not going to do what they wanted me to do which was lie about me given someone a gun wheh I did not which would have gave me 32yr's as a accessory to james murder rip, my bro.because out of no where sam des wrote brian and told him that he was dating tiffany ans she supposedly accidently shot him and lil d. Now please realist and others pay attention they did autopsey and ballistics wright so if that was true then she would have been charged, ok so what guns did I testify on realist you dumb fucc if I would have and I did not give anyone a gun nor have I ever testified about guns.remember when sam des put me in this bs, which I dont belong or have any part of until that court date in 1998, were they tried to use me as a escapegoat off a lie they made up, see after the lawyer explained to me even though everyone was deceased in 1998 i could still be charged with accessory.were they walked me in and asked me two questions.now when I heard of this I phoned westward and I spoke to him and his boss, trust im going to sue the westward, because they wrote this article like I went into there trial or spoke to a da or anybody that fucc with them and testified about some guns when thats not the truth.well after there first trial they added me after everyone was decease making me the last link due to what sam des told them now thats who testified on some guns, they all had a lifer pack help me and I will help you sam des said to brian in exchange for help on his case since the case sam des is on is a family or associate to them.and I put a comment of truth because there familys know and they know I did not have anything to do with that thay thought I was dumb after the fact.now if your my friend or eina richardsons please go see where in april I inbox sam des adbout how he lie and put me in that case and how I had him beat up infront of brian william and eric, when sam des got back to centennial he looked li I ge the elephant man, all this is real lit even that there parents tried to pay me to become apart of this case which I dont belong so im defending me with truth, I dont no and I was not there.now im being respectful with my words because im defending myself with the truth, like I told alan and his boss if im on paper work like they say show that.now I dont no when there trial was 92 93 now when they addede me to were I dont belong which is in this bs, was 1998 after everybody in that car was deceased.now everything I said from the cell incident to I dont no and I was not there is truth and they all know that.now alan pendagrass as I said if you did your investigation before you wrote this were is those documents of me testifying about guns, lol, hey sounds like a challenge im sueing westward watch this writer did not due his home work or better admit to a misprint u fag.now pull those documents..watch yaw he cant, now realist you fuccen with the real ten toe's padna.now you nut rider when I move I move with truth and fact as I said go to my wall ans see where I inbox sam des in april and what we talked about became a westward topic, smells fishy in this bi, so read the messages and howhe says he can give me a life sentence, sounds like hate. Its realout here were they now working in there to try and get back out here seems by any means neccessary. Am I a target.lol,

 
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