VOL. 127 | NO. 37 | Thursday, February 23, 2012
Defense Critical of Plea Deal for Fields in Petties Case
By Bill Dries
Shortly after Latrell Small and Kalonji Griffin were shot to death by Clarence Broady in a car at a Hickory Hill apartment complex in 2004, Demetrius Fields got a new tattoo.
It shows two stick men, one firing a gun and the other shot and on the ground with no head.
Fields had helped plan the murders for the Petties drug organization.
He also dropped Broady off near Mario Stewart’s house on Callaway Hills Drive the night in 2005 that Broady killed Stewart, also for the organization.
Broady waited several hours in Stewart’s garage near Hacks Cross Road and Shelby Drive East until Stewart came there to get in his car. Stewart drove to a nearby park to wait for Broady and fell asleep until he was awakened by Broady keying his Nextel phone after he shot Stewart.
“You kill people don’t you?” defense attorney Marty McAfee asked near the end of the day Fields spent on the witness stand Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Memphis Federal Court.
“Not from my hands,” Fields replied.
“But you sure are a big helper,” McAfee said.
“You could say that,” Fields answered.
Fields testified for the prosecution in the drug conspiracy, racketeering and murder for hire trial of Martin Lewis and Clinton Lewis under terms of a plea deal in which Fields will not be charged with any of the murders he admits he played a role in.
McAfee and defense attorney Anne Tipton repeatedly brought up the plea agreement including a 20 year cap on any prison sentence as they cross examined Fields.
It would be up to Mays to approve the deal when Fields is sentenced later.
More than any other witness in the trial so far, Fields implicated Clinton Lewis in the 2006 murder of Marcus Turner. Turner was killed in Olive Branch, Ms. after he was kidnapped, beaten and tortured over three days at several different locations in Shelby County.
Broady is expected to be called as the next witness by the prosecution.
Fields testified Wednesday that Turner was turned over to Clinton Lewis after being tortured for several days by Broady and Carlos Whitelow, one time codefendants in the case who have since pleaded guilty to other charges. Fields also said in phone conversations he had with drug kingpin Craig Petties before and after the transfer, Petties said Turner should be killed and that he had been killed.
Fields testified that Turner was kidnapped because the drug organization was searching for 200 kilos of missing cocaine. They suspected Bobby Craft, someone they supplied, had stolen it and thought Turner might know where Craft was.
For part of the time, Turner was kept tied up, blindfolded and naked in a van that was parked in the backyard of a house on Mendenhall in East Memphis. Fields testified that he saw Turner in the van and that Turner was later moved to another house off Riverdale, further east.
Broady and Whitelow began to have their doubts that he knew anything about Craft. They refused to kill Turner, according to Fields, when Petties concluded that Turner may not know anything about the missing cocaine but that he “knew too much by then.”
Tipton portrayed Fields as a killer so cold that he didn’t remember the years of the murders and even “took a nap while you were waiting” during Stewart’s murder.
“I fell asleep. I didn’t try to,” Fields countered. “It was just business,” he said later of Stewart’s murder.
Fields says he and Broady knew each other well and both had done prison time for robberies that Fields told prosecutors in a 2011 proffer he and Broady did numerous times.
Even after the Petties organization was supplying Fields, he said he and Broady contemplated robbing Clinton Lewis or stealing drugs from his stash house briefly before dropping the idea.
Broady had also teamed with Small in some robberies which was how he lured Small to the Hickory Hill apartment complex where Small died.
Fields said he, Petties and other leaders of the organization wanted Small killed because of a series of confrontations that began when Small’s girlfriend left him for Petties. The specific incident that triggered the hit was a robbery of Vacha Vaughn, Fields original supplier in the organization, who was shot and critically wounded in 2004 when a car with men dressed like police officers pulled him over.
Broady, according to Fields, called Small to set up a robbery of someone in the apartment complex. Small brought along his longtime friend, Kalonji Griffin and Broady joined them in their car in a covered parking space. They were preparing to kick in the fictitious victim’s apartment door when Broady, in the back seat, shot them each twice in the back of the head.
One of the first Memphis Police officers to arrive at the complex testified earlier this week that when he found Griffin and Small in the front seat of the car, each was still clutching a handgun.
Griffin was not a target, Fields said. “He was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
Fields’ matter of fact demeanor was a sharp contrast to the recording prosecutors played earlier this week of a dying Stewart calling a 9-1-1 dispatcher for help moments after he had been shot.
“Someone just shot me,” Stewart said immediately. “Help me. … I don’t want to die.”
He began hitting buttons on the phone as dispatchers got his address and tried to get him to talk more and identify who shot him and whether they were still there. Stewart didn’t identify who shot him but said the person had left.
Soon Stewart’s voice dropped off into labored breathing and groaning. After several minutes, Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies could be heard calling out their identity as they cautiously made their way through the house.
Paramedics could then be heard counting off to lift Stewart onto a gurney and shouting out his vital signs.
“Get the wing going,” a woman’s voice said, signaling to call for a helicopter. “Hang tight for me now.”
The jury also saw crime scene and autopsy pictures of Griffin and Small. Tipton again showed the bloody crime scene photos on a large screen in the courtroom.
“That’s what Mr. Broady did, according to your plan,” she said. “But you don’t think you were part of the killing.”
“All of us did it,” Fields answered. “That’s what we had to do because of what happened to Vacha.”
Vaughn vouched for Fields within the Petties organization within weeks after Fields’ release from state prison. Fields did the same for Broady after Broady’s prison release.
Eventually, Vaughn would be a target of suspicion and an attempted hit in 2007 by the Petties organization when it was feared he was cooperating with authorities. Vaughn survived and his name was on the tentative list of possible witnesses read to the jurors during the jury selection process.