A Queens gang leader who killed a rival over the theft of popular drill rapper Shawny Binladen’s gold chain learned the steep price of revenge: two life sentences for the 2019 murder.
Christopher Acevedo, 28, the founder and leader of the Wood City gang in Queens, was staring down mandatory life in prison after a jury convicted him of the racketeering murder of David Hutchinson in May. On Wednesday, Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Diane Gujarati handed down the sentences, to run concurrently.
Acevedo was hoping to steal back the reputation his gang lost when a member of the rival SNOW gang, Dontaye Goines, chased the up-and-coming hip-hopper out of a Queens music studio in August 2019 and robbed him of his chain.
That chain was more than just a piece of chunky bling with the letters YTB in flashy gold and jewels — it was a symbol of Wood Gang’s power and influence, hanging from the neck of Wood City’s number two man, prosecutors said.
And after Goines took it from Shawny Binladen, real name Kayshawn Joseph, he took to Facebook Live to brag about it, prosecutors said.
“So what does somebody taking a chain signify or mean? Besides getting killed or telling, which is cooperating, the next bad thing for a rapper is getting your chain taken. That doesn’t stand in this world,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kayla Bensing said in her closing argument to the jury.
YTB stands for the “Yellow Tape Boyz,” another name for the gang. The Yellow Tape Boyz is also the name of Shawny Binladen’s rap collective. His popularity has risen in recent years, with NPR describing him as the “King of Samples” in an April profile.
So Acevedo acted quickly, rallying his gang members to kill Goines — except Goines slipped away as the bullets flew, leaving his fellow SNOW Gang member Hutchinson to take the brunt of the fatal barrage, the feds said.
“Christopher Acevedo murdered David Hutchinson. Why? He was killing for respect, for reputation,” Bensing said. “SNOW Gang had disrespected Wood City by stealing Keyshawn Joseph’s, Shawny Binladen’s, YTB chain. And the defendant, the founder, the leader of Wood City, couldn’t let that stand.”
Hutchinson and Acevedo had been warring for years, and the former was fatally shot in a Dodge Charger, outside a deli at Springfield Ave. and 140th Ave. in Laurelton. Acevedo and two other gang members rolled up in his mother’s BMW, and he opened fire from inside the luxury vehicle. Goines tucked the chain into his shirt and ran off, and Hutchinson was hit several times.
Prosecutors contended that Acevedo, who goes by the nickname “Essay,” needed to pull the trigger himself to keep his status as Wood City’s leader intact after he was locked up from 2013 to 2018 on a grand larceny conviction.
Acevedo featured prominently in the 2018 music video “YTB — Cartel Talk,” which shows him being greeted by Binladen and other Wood City members after his release from prison.
“Christopher Acevedo showed his indifference for human life when he murdered David Hutchinson in broad daylight over a petty gang dispute, in order to maintain and burnish his status as the leader of a violent street gang whose members felt insulted by the taking of a piece of jewelry,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said.
In a letter to the judge, Acevedo’s lawyer Mark DeMarco railed against mandatory life sentence laws and pointed out that if his case was tried in state court, he would be eligible for parole in roughly 25 years. He described Acevedo as “another passenger on the School to Prison Pipeline” and said he suffered from untreated brain trauma and learning disabilities as a young boy.
“Given his age, not only is a life sentence a waste, an unnecessary expense and a travesty, it’s an injustice which exemplifies the problem with mandatory life prison sentences,” DeMarco wrote.
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