U.S. District Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays had a dilemma as he sentenced a contract killer Thursday, Jan. 3, for his part in the Craig Petties drug organization.
Clarence Broady cooperated with the government after pleading guilty late in the case. He was on the witness stand for a day and a half as a government witness last year at the trial of the only two defendants in the case who did not plead guilty.
But he killed three of the six people murdered by the drug organization as outlined in the racketeering, murder-for-hire and drug conspiracy set of charges. And he played a role in the murder of a fourth. And one of the people he killed on orders from Petties was working with federal drug agents on their case against the organization. That is why Petties, from exile in Mexico, ordered the murder of Mario Stewart.
So while Mays gave Broady credit for cooperating he also factored in several points in the other direction of the sentencing scale because Broady had obstructed justice by killing someone who would have been a more important witness in the case.
During the four-and-a-half hour sentencing hearing, Mays said the dilemma was more than some technical consideration involving what a phrase in the law means.
“There is nothing to suggest Mr. Broady was anything other than a willing executioner,” he said. “There is nothing to suggest that someone involved in the drug trade can be killed with less fault.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Pritchard cited “the choices he made over an extended amount of time.”
“It is very, very hard to state just how heinous it is,” Pritchard added as he talked about the charges and Broady’s cooperation.
Broady pleaded guilty as the case neared its trial date.
He wasn’t a substantial witness on which the proof relied, according to Pritchard.
“He provided information on a number of topics, but we already knew that information by then,” he told Mays. “It was not extensive in that we couldn’t have proved that in other ways. It was not as extensive as the information provided by others.”
Defense attorneys Gene Laurenzi and Art Quinn, however, said the danger to Broady was real and they likened his situation to that of key witnesses in other organized crime cases.
Laurenzi specifically cited John Martorano, a hit man for the Winter Hill Gang of Boston who cooperated with prosecutors and whose testimony brought down leaders of the organization. He got 12 years in prison despite admitting to 20 murders.
But Mays said Martorano was different than Broady because Martorano had day-to-day knowledge of the Winter Hill Gang over decades that was essential to the federal case.
“That’s not what we have here,” Mays added.
Broady was sentenced on eight counts including racketeering conspiracy, murder for hire, kidnapping and drug conspiracy. He pleaded guilty to the charges in the largest drug conspiracy case ever brought in Memphis federal court. In addition to a multi-state drug operation with direct ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel of Mexico, the organization based in the Riverview section of South Memphis was the most violent ever brought into Memphis federal court.
“I’m all right with it,” Lucy Turner, the mother of Marcus Turner, told Pritchard after the hearing.
Earlier, in court with Broady standing a few feet away unshackled, wearing tan prison scrubs with his head bowed, she told Mays, “There was an opportunity to turn my son loose, but he didn’t. … I just ask that justice be done.”
Broady testified last year about his role in the abduction of Marcus Turner, who was held at several locations around Memphis for days and tortured for information about $4 million worth of cocaine stolen from one of the organization’s stash houses.
He was shot and his body dumped on the Mississippi side of the state line.
Broady testified last year that he refused to kill Turner and believed Turner was telling the truth when he said he had no information about the theft. Others testified that Petties ordered Turner’s murder saying that he too had come to believe Turner had no information but that at that point he knew too much.
Clinton Lewis was convicted last year of the counts generally involving the 2006 murder of Turner. But the jury acquitted him on one count specifically involving the murder. The informant who turned over the gun used to kill Turner to police testified that the gun he turned over was not Lewis’ but belonged to another member of the organization.
“I don’t know who killed Marcus Turner,” Mays said Thursday. “But I know a lot of people are responsible for his death.”