VOL. 127 | NO. 38 | Friday, February 24, 2012
Petties Org Drug Trial Ends Third Week
By Bill Dries
The Craig Petties drug organization trial has settled into some predictable rhythms as it begins its fourth week Monday, Feb. 27, in Memphis Federal Court.
The prosecution’s case against Martin Lewis and Clinton Lewis is a mix heavy on those from within the drug organization and those the organization supplied with the law enforcement officers who worked a set of six murders by the organization over a seven-year period.
Attorneys for the Lewises, who are accused of being hit men for the violent multi-state drug organization, question the motives of the organization’s members who pleaded guilty and made deals with the government hoping for lighter or reduced prison sentences.
But the shortened third week of trial before Federal Judge Hardy Mays ended with a study in contrast.
Bobby Craft, a 30-year-old U.S. Army Iraq war veteran, gave as good as he got during a cross-examination in which defense attorney Anne Tipton questioned his credibility and honesty because he stole most of a 200-kilogram shipment of cocaine from the Petties organization in a dispute over money and made $4 million from it.
The theme has been a constant in her cross-examination of other government witnesses who were drug dealers.
“We’re all criminals,” Craft responded. “We were engaged in criminal activity. What does it matter? … We were a bunch of crooks. It is what it is.”
“Stealing is stealing,” Tipton responded.
“I believe selling cocaine is selling cocaine,” Craft answered.
Craft also told of a gun battle shortly after the theft from a stash house in Germantown he guarded. It began when he picked up his 6-year-old son at the boy’s mother’s house in South Memphis. He said several cars filled with Petties’ enforcers – including both of the Lewises – came at his car from different directions as his son got in. Craft pulled a gun and began firing.
The enforcers backed off, chasing Craft’s car on the interstate system to the borders of Forrest City, Ark., trading shots along the way.
“I knew what I was up against. So I was prepared. … They weren’t coming to shake my hand,” he said, adding he specifically saw Clinton Lewis among them. “They were coming to kill me.”
Craft, who is the only Petties connection to testify who hasn’t come to court from a prison cell, helped count money and guard stash houses for his cousin Ricky Evans.
“He was making a lot of money and I wasn’t,” Craft said of his decision to steal a newly arrived shipment of cocaine just after Clinton Lewis stopped by to pick up 60 kilograms, according to Craft’s testimony.
Craft also implicated Martin Lewis in the violence that followed the theft despite not mentioning him earlier in a proffer to prosecutors.
“Martin Lewis was there,” he told Lewis’ attorney Marty McAfee, who brought up the discrepancy. “He was one of the main guys running around saying he was going to kill my mom and me. He was there.”
The theft set in motion the kidnapping, three days of torture and the murder of Marcus Turner – whom Petties thought might have information on Craft.
Craft has not yet been sentenced on a guilty plea to racketeering conspiracy. He could get a life sentence. He has been out on bond since shortly after his indictment.
When the trial resumes Monday, Clarence Broady will resume his testimony.
Broady testified about three murders he committed for the organization on the orders of Petties after Petties fled Memphis to Mexico in exile in 2002. He pleaded guilty to them and is awaiting sentencing.
For much of his testimony Thursday, Feb. 23, Broady answered questions from Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Gilluly with a monotone “sir, yes, sir” or “sir, no, sir” and a blank expression on his face.
Gilluly got just a bit more from Broady with open-ended questions about details of the murders of Latrell Small, Kalonji Griffin and Mario Stewart. But the monotone remained and became more chilling in the process.
“I shot both of them in the back of the head,” he answered twice when prompted for more details on the violent deaths of Small and Griffin. His face remained expressionless as he looked over at bloody crime-scene photos that Gilluly put on a large screen in the courtroom.
“I shot him four times,” he said of killing Stewart.
He also implicated Martin Lewis in the 2007 murder of Mario McNeil, saying Petties told him Lewis killed McNeil in one of several plots. McNeil, according to Broady, was feuding with Petties and threatened Petties’ mother during the feud.