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story.lead_photo.caption Chris Alexander - Photo by Pulaski County sheriff's office

Chris Lamont Alexander, who claimed he'd given up a life of crime to crusade against Little Rock street gangs and keep teenagers from joining them, accepted a six-year prison sentence Monday, three months after a federal grand jury indicted him on drug-trafficking charges linked to the city's gang wars.

The 41-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to felony charges of fleeing and possession of body armor, in exchange for the six-year term imposed by Circuit Judge Barry Sims.

Deputy prosecutor Tonia Acker told the judge that the charges stem from separate arrests in Little Rock, the first involving a June police pursuit and the second an August traffic stop that led to the discovery of a Kevlar vest, which Alexander told police belonged to him. A 1994 conviction for aggravated assault when he was age 17 prohibits Alexander from possessing body armor.

But it was his third arrest in 2017 that led to his federal indictment. Alexander, who federal authorities say goes by the nicknames Murda or Murder, was taken into custody in October after 7.5 pounds of marijuana and a second armored vest were found in the car he was driving during a drug task force raid on the car-detailing business he operated at a Little Rock car wash.

According to police testimony, Alexander's arrest in August with the first Kevlar vest led authorities to put him under surveillance, which included setting up a hidden camera outside a Jacksonville store that Alexander was renting. Police found evidence that marijuana had been stored in the building.

Authorities had already taken an interest in Alexander by then. His 14-year-old son was found shot to death in Alexander's Little Rock apartment, where police also discovered 1.8 pounds of marijuana. No one has been charged in the slaying of Cyncere Alexander.

But police have identified two men as persons of interest in the case, according to reports. One of them is Machita Decosta "Frog" Mitchell Jr., 42, a Little Rock man known to police as a longtime member of the Wolfe Street Crips. Investigators said they've heard that Mitchell might blame Alexander for some marijuana that disappeared.

Alexander claimed to have repudiated his membership in the Crips gang, but federal investigators have characterized him as an active member.

Alexander, citing his own criminal record and gang involvement, had helped found a youth outreach program aimed at discouraging teenagers from getting involved with gangs. The group's efforts had been endorsed by some city officials, and it was no secret that the group's name, Better Community and Family Values, was selected to use the initials of Pulaski County gangs: Bloods, Crips, Folks and Vice Lords. Some of the group's materials deliberately used gang colors.

Alexander and Mitchell appear to have been acquainted for some time, according to reports. They were arrested together in May 2015 during a police raid at Alexander's home with 3 ounces of marijuana and scales. They both subsequently pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Mitchell and the second person of interest in Cyncere Alexander's slaying, Kenwan Demarcus "Booman" Sherrod, 21, are believed to have been present when the shooting started last summer at the now-defunct downtown Little Rock nightclub Power Ultra Lounge that injured 25 people, according to reports. Police have characterized that shooting as part of ongoing gang conflict.

Sherrod and Mitchell are facing witness bribery charges over accusations that they tried to pay off a man who reported to police that Mitchell, while holding a rifle, threatened to kill him. Mitchell was arrested in February 2017 over the threatening allegations, then was charged with bribery last year based on reported recordings of jail phone conversations he had with Sherrod and relatives.

Sherrod and Mitchell were indicted earlier this year on federal gun and marijuana charges stemming from a June police raid at Mitchell's Little Rock home, where authorities reported seizing $23,700, guns and 84 pounds of marijuana.

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Metro on 04/26/2018

Print Headline: Man who swore off crime pleads guilty to fleeing

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