Yasser Ashburn, the leader of a set of the violent street gang Folk Nation operating primarily in the Crown Heights and East Flatbush neighborhoods of Brooklyn, was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment yesterday.
32-year-old Ashburn led a Folk Nation set of 20 to 25 members that operated in the Ebbets Field Houses, a New York City public housing community in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. From approximately 2007 until their arrests in 2011 and 2012, he and two co-defendants were responsible for numerous acts of gang-related violence, including homicides, non-fatal shootings, and robberies in Brooklyn and elsewhere in the tri-state area.
Earlier, on November 10, 2015, one of Ashburn’s co-defendants, Jamal Laurent, was sentenced to five consecutive life terms of imprisonment. Another co-defendant, Trevelle Merritt, was sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment that same month. In March of 2015, all three defendants were convicted, following a jury trial, of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, including the murders of Courtney Robinson, Brent Duncan, and Dasta James.
The government’s evidence at trial established that, during the early morning hours of April 20, 2008, a fight erupted at a birthday party held in an apartment at the Ebbets Field Houses. After Courtney Robinson entered the fight to protect his nephew who was being beaten by Folk Nation gang members, Ashburn left the melee and retrieved a handgun from the building stairwell where the gang typically stored weapons. Ashburn then returned to the apartment and shot Robinson at point blank range in the back, killing him.
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