VOL. 127 | NO. 47 | Thursday, March 8, 2012
Violent Acts Take Stage in Fed Drug Trial
By Bill Dries
When Mario McNeil allegedly threatened the mother of drug kingpin Craig Petties in 2007, the Memphis drug organization Petties ran from exile in Mexico took it seriously.
Martin Lewis and several others were assigned to patrol her home on West Dison Avenue in South Memphis.
And it was Lewis who was raced to a restaurant on Kirby Parkway in March of that year to kill McNeil after he was spotted by others in the organization, according to Terry Antonio Peete.
Peete, who described himself as someone who worked for the Petties organization but wasn’t part of it, testified Tuesday, March 6, to dropping Lewis off at the Divine Wings and Bar Co. A woman in the restaurant at the time identified Lewis as the man she saw walk into the restaurant seconds before shots were fired.
Carla Davis testified she noticed Lewis because he was wearing a hoodie with the hood up on a sunny and warm day.
Lewis’ sister, Camika Lewis, testified that she bought a new truck in her name for him with cash from her brother just days after the murder.
The testimony is another indication federal prosecutors are narrowing their drug conspiracy, racketeering and murder for hire case against both Lewis and Clinton Lewis after weeks of establishing the broad reach and violent nature of the organization.
Defense attorneys for both men also sharpened their attacks on the motives of the government witnesses.
Peete testified that he and Martin Lewis were about to sell marijuana to several members of the organization when Carlos Whitelow told Peete to give the phone to Lewis who suddenly directed Peete to drive to Kirby Parkway and stop outside the restaurant.
Peete said Lewis grabbed a pistol from the glove compartment and took Peete’s hat as he got out of the car and walked into the restaurant.
“I’m rolling a blunt and I hear a shot,” Peete said. “I’m really thinking someone’s shooting at me.”
Peete testified that he began to drive away when he heard Lewis banging on the trunk of the car and yelling for him to stop.
“You were going to leave me?” Peete quoted Lewis as saying.
Peete said he was angry because others had apparently planned the shooting without him knowing.
His description of what he was doing as he waited was one of numerous references made to rolling marijuana joints when he was unoccupied.
Defense attorney Marty McAfee focused on Peete’s presence during the 2006 kidnapping of Marcus Turner, another murder that is part of the case against Clinton Lewis.
Peete testified that he was at a house in East Memphis to sell pot to members of the organization there when he saw “a guy blindfolded, with some goggles on.”
“I didn’t see any beatings, as far as blood goes,” Peete told Assistant U.S. Attorney David Pritchard. “He was tied up. I was asking what was going on.”
Peete said the others told him Turner had stolen nearly 200 kilograms of cocaine from the organization.
But Peete denied the testimony of Whitelow and Clarence Broady who said he was more involved in the kidnapping than the one encounter at the house. He said he never saw Turner after the encounter.
“Say it to the jury – you had nothing to do with abducting Marcus Turner,” McAfee demanded twice. “What did you get for kidnapping and murdering Marcus Turner?”
Peete said he had nothing to do with it although he saw Turner kneeling, bound and blindfolded at one point and laying on his side at another point.
“So you ran right to the police?” McAfee countered.
“No, sir,” Turner replied. “It was a normal day at the house.”
“You’re not telling the jury this was a normal day in your drug dealing life,” McAfee shot back.
“Other than that,” Peete said.
Peete was also one of several early suspects in Turner’s murder as Olive Branch Police detective Kevin McKenzie investigated it.
Attorneys on both sides began their recorded direct and cross examination of McKenzie late Tuesday as a witness for the defense. The jury will see the recording during the defense case. It is being recorded because McKenzie is testifying under subpoena from Honduras where he now lives.