Devonte Bonds, Thomas Bishop, Jason Sullivan, and Brianna Robinson
Four suspected Knoxville gang members will likely receive harsher sentences, thanks to a new state law.
According to the Knox County District Attorney General's office, Devonte Bonds, 20, Thomas Bishop, 20, Jason Sullivan, 35, and Brianna Robinson, 25,were members of the "Five Deuce Hoover Crips." They were convicted last week on attempted murder, aggravated assault and firearms charges. Investigators said the four severely beat a victim last May. That victim was in a coma for months before finally recovering and identifying the suspects.
The D.A.G.'s office said this case appears to be the first time Tennessee's enhanced punishment laws for gang members will be applied. The "gang enhancement" law raises the sentencing for any felony to the next highest class of crime, meaning longer prison terms are possible.
When the four suspects are sentenced in July, Bonds could face from 18-35 years in prison; Bishop and Sullivan could get 30-45 years behind bars because of their criminal history; and Robinson could be sentenced from 11-22 years.
The "Five Deuce Hoover Crips" street gang was established in California in the 1960's and has been active in the Knoxville area since the mid 1990's.
General Randy Nichols said, quoting Edmund Burke, the great Anglo-Irish statesman, "
'All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do
nothing'. Or as we would say in East Tennessee, if we don't stand up to
violence, we will only get more of it."
According to General Nichols, this was one of a growing number of crimes where efforts were made to intimidate witnesses. Nichols said he was thankful that the victim in this case was willing to come forward regardless of that intimidation. He also thanked the KPD and KCSO for taking action to protect witnesses on every occasion threats were made.