A D.C. judge has denied an attempt to vacate the convictions in the 1984 Catherine Fuller gang-rape and murder that shocked the city.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg ordered a review of the case after defense attorney said they found information that could have prevented the convictions.

The unusual hearing to re-examine the case lasted several weeks in April and May. The proceedings were very much like a trial, with opening arguments, closing arguments and a host of witnesses who took the stand to describe again what happened nearly 30 years ago.

In his decision Monday, Weisberg found that the defense's case relied mostly on the word of witnesses who changed their testimony or of defendants, none of which he found credible.

"Having heard the 'new' evidence, the court is convinced that the totality of evidence pointing to the guilt of these seven petitions remains, as the Court of Appeals first characterized it -- 'overwhelming," Weisberg wrote.

In a release Monday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia said it was pleased that Weisberg rejected the claims of the defense, which included unfounded allegations of misconduct by police and prosecutors.

"We are satisfied that justice has been done and hope that today's ruling settles this matter and brings some measure of peace to Ms. Fuller's family," the release said.

Fuller's slaying and the subsequent trial received extensive news coverage. It was the mid-1980s, and although the District was already known as the "Murder Capital on the Potomac," the city was not yet numbed by the crack-cocaine fueled violence to come.

In the late afternoon of Oct. 1, 1984, Fuller -- a tiny 48-year-old grandmother -- was dragged into a Northeast D.C. alley near H and Eighth streets and beaten, sodomized with a pole and robbed of $50 in cash and a ring.

Police focused their investigation on a group of young people who hung out at a nearby park who called themselves the 8-N-H Crew and had nicknames like "Snot Rag" and "Bobo."

Eight people were convicted by a jury, and two pleaded guilty.

Weisberg allowed a review for those who were convicted at trial. One of the men had been released from prison, and another had died in prison.

The rest remain behind bars.

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com