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Thursday, 2 October 2008

Jose "Boom Bat" Negrete had "total control" over the gang's activities and used money from the gang's kitty to purchase guns he gave members to carry

01:22 |

As head of the Latin King street gang, Jose "Boom Bat" Negrete had "total control" over the gang's activities and used money from the gang's kitty to purchase guns he gave members to carry out his deadly orders, an ex-Latin King testified in court yesterday. Esmeraldo "Esmo" Rodriguez said if any Latin King wielded a gun -- to shoot up a rival gang member's house or commit a murder -- it was done with Negrete's express permission. "Anything that went on, anything that happened went through him, especially beef," Rodriguez said, referring to gang-related violence. "There was nothing going to happen without that man's say so. He had control over all of us. He was militant. He was the one giving the orders, making the plans, in venting what to do." Negrete, 27, is on trial for the murder of Jeri Lynn Dotson, 23, a female member of the Latin Kings who was shot to death execution style in her Chestnut Street home in August 2004. Negrete is charged with ordering the shooting to keep the mother of two quiet about witnessing several Latin Kings lure rival gang member Alex Ruiz to what was supposed to be his death. Ne grete is also charged with the at tempted murder of Ruiz, who sur vived the strangulation attempt. Yesterday Rodriguez testified outside the jury's presence in a hearing to determine what he will be allowed to say when he takes the stand today.
Assistant Prosecutor Tom Meidt wants Rodriguez to be able to testify that Negrete bragged that he had "Muslim connections" to supply guns to the gang and that on one occasion Rodriguez ac companied Negrete to a mosque for guns. He also wants Rodriguez to testify that Negrete gave guns to the gang members he ordered to "put in work," or shoot and murder people. Defense attorney Mark Fury said Rodriguez could provide no proof that Negrete could or did get guns from any Muslims or that any guns he may have provided were used for the murder of Dotson or any other crime. Such testimony would unfairly prejudice the jury, Fury argued. Fury maintains that it was Rodriguez and another Latin King, Roberto "Bam Bam" Rodriguez, who plotted the murders of Ruiz and Dotson. Superior Court Judge Darlene Pereksta is expected to rule on Rodriguez's testimony this morning. Earlier in the trial yesterday Dotson's family members sobbed quietly as photos of her crime scene were displayed on a video screen for jurors. Negrete sat impassively, hand on his chin, as he looked at photos of Dotson, clad in shorts and a tank top, lying in a pool of blood. Dotson's parents and sister averted their eyes, but hearing a police witness describe the crime scene was enough to bring them to tears as they clutched each other's hands for support. Another witness, neighbor Anthony Smith, testified that he had heard a loud bang inside his home around 2:40 a.m. the morning Dotson was shot to death.

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