Jurors to be sequestered in Black Souls racketeering trial
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Prosecutors on Monday compared the six square blocks of the West Side controlled by the Black Souls to technology behemoth Apple Inc., while defense lawyers said the street gang was simply a “random collection of dudes.”
The stark difference in the interpretation of nine weeks of trial testimony was to be expected, as prosecutors for the first time are trying a case that uses state racketeering charges to link members of a gang to both a drug-trafficking business and the violence — including six murders — that are part of the trade.
Alleged Black Souls leader Cornel Dawson and his five co-defendants leaned against a wall, staring impassively at Assistant State’s Attorney Thomas Darman as he summarized seven weeks of the prosecution’s case, arguing that 102 witnesses and more than 800 exhibits proved the Black Souls had a corporate-style business and hierarchy.
“It creates a web of testimony that none of these defendants can escape: Dope dealing, dope dealing, dope dealing. Violence, violence, violence,” Darman said.
But defense lawyers said the mountain of evidence was supported by unreliable testimony from an informant and gang members who cut sweetheart deals with prosecutors. Raids targeting the Black Souls leaders had netted a few thousand dollars worth of drugs and little evidence of coordination among members, despite wiretaps, surveillance cameras and a snitch who received $100,000 in cash and benefits from the government, said Richard Dvorak, lawyer for Antoine “Twilla” Davis.
“Apple? Really? This pathetic hodgepodge of random drug selling? Where there is no money? No amount of drugs found, 200 grams, I think, is the most at one time,” said Richard Dvorak, lawyer for Davis, one of Dawson’s top lieutenants, who was arrested during a 2012 raid at his home that turned up no drugs and little cash. “Or are these a random collection of dudes, out there selling drugs for a little amount of money, some of whom happen to be Black Souls?”
Closings were slated to continue into Tuesday afternoon, and the already fatigued jurors moaned when Judge Michael McHale informed them to pack a bag for their return to the courthouse. The jury is to be sequestered until they reach a verdict.
The rare step is in keeping with the unusually high security McHale has ordered for the trial, including the decision to seat an extra-large number of seven alternate jurors and posting metal detectors outside the courtroom.
The joint investigation by the FBI and CPD that targeted the Black Souls was dubbed “Operation .40-Cal,” a name taken from the size of the shells used to kill Claude Snulligan, a police informant who was allegedly gunned down by gang enforcer Duavon Spears in 2012.
Gang members allegedly tried to bribe Snulligan to drop charges against other gang members who had beaten and robbed him after he complained about drug dealing on his block.