INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 3, 2014)– Six men were convicted in the murder of a disc jockey at a north side recording studio, and tomorrow the last two killers will go to prison.
Thomas “DJ” Keys was tormented, bound and executed at the One Stop Media studios at 2044 East 46th Street on November 15, 2012.
Carlton Hart–known as Sir Hart on the streets–owned the studios and had the biggest grudge against Keys and Marvin Finney II.
Hart’s cousin, Brandon “Bango” McMitchell, was a member of the Luchi Boys gang, which had conflict with the gang Bad Side Entertainment. McMitchell was murdered the weekend before Keys’ killing. Testimony in the trials of the six co-conspirators revealed that Hart and his compatriots assumed that since Keys was a disc jockey, and some of the men involved were rappers, that the father of two whose girlfriend was expecting his third child, must have known who killed McMitchell.
“So they lured my son there,” Debra Watson told Fox 59 News, “and asked him questions about if he heard anything.
“They think that maybe be had heard something by working with different ones, if somebody might have said something. My son hadn’t heard anything.”
Keys and Finney were invited to the studio to work on music tracks. Instead they were confined, threatened, tormented, bound and shot during a three hour ordeal. During the incident the murderers debated on the best way to kill the pair. Keys died of several gunshot wounds. Finney, though wounded, played dead and later escaped to flag down help.
“Even through with all they had done, one of the guys told him, ‘Man, you know he don’t know nothing,'” Watson quoted one of the killers. “‘Just let him go. They didn’t care whether he knew anything or not. They just wanted to do something to him. Somebody was going to die.”
Hart arrived at the studio to observe the police investigation, told detectives that his cousin had been recently murdered and said he knew nothing about the killing.
Later, surveillance video surfaced of Hart and his friends buying the zip ties and duct tape that was used to bind the victims.
After several trials, Nathaniel Armstrong, “L’il Nate,” the gunman, received 175 years in prison. Darin Jackson was sentenced to 18 years and James McDuffy to 185 years.
Dominque Hamler and Dontee Robinson will be sentenced Wednesday.
Debra Watson will be in the courtroom.
“No parent raises their child to be a murderer.”
“My son was not in a gang. He loved music. He loved people.”
“They were just evil. They were evil guys who had been doing this kind of stuff. That’s the type of guys they were.”
Watson holds Hart responsible for her son’s death.
Not only did the murder occur in his studio. Not only did Hart have the motivation for the killings while seeking information about his slain cousin. Hart was arrested for the december, 2008, murder of a northside man during a home invasion robbery. The case was called “My Brother’s Keeper” and was profiled on the Investigation Discovery Channel series “The Shift” which featured IMPD homicide detectives. Eventually charges were dropped against Hart and his alleged accomplice Samuel Swavely when the prosecution’s main witness backed off his identification of the killers.
“When I found out that he had beat another murder case, I was so upset,” said Watson, “because if he had been locked up, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”
The 2008 case remains technically unsolved.
Bango McMitchell’s killer has never been caught.
Carlton Hart served one year in the Marion County Jail while awaiting trial in the 2008 case.
Debra Watson has begun a foundation in her son’s name and will hold the Thomas Garrett Keys 2nd Annual Kickball Tournament for children and teens at Riverside Park June 17th.
“Maybe we can stop a child who’s going to lead to the bad way like those guys,” she said. “Maybe we can pull them to the right side where you don’t make these kind of mistakes. Maybe we can stop some of this violence out there.”
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