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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Admitted hit man testifies in federal drug trial that he killed on orders from Craig Petties

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A confessed hit man testified Thursday that he was paid in cash and cocaine for gunning down two drug thieves and a suspected police informant on orders from drug kingpin Craig Petties. Clarence Broady also testified that Petties told him Clinton Lewis and Martin Lewis committed murders for Petties' Memphis-based drug organization, which is accused of smuggling millions of dollars-worth of cocaine from Mexico into the United States for sale in Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. The Lewises, who are cousins, are on trial on charges including racketeering-murder, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and money laundering. They have pleaded not guilty, but face life in prison if convicted. Petties has already pleaded guilty to racketeering, money laundering and hiring hit men to kill four people who were threats to the organization. He is awaiting sentencing. Broady and about 30 other members of Petties' organization also have pleaded guilty to various drug and murder-related charges. Petties fled to Mexico after his indictment in 2002 but continued to run his drug ring, which gang members testified had ties to the Beltran Leyva drug cartel in Mexico. Petties was placed on the U.S. Marshals' 15 most wanted list. He was captured in January 2008 and returned to Memphis. Prosecutors have questioned gang members about whether Clinton Lewis, 36, and Martin Lewis, 34, were also members of the Petties ring in order to prove the racketeering charges against the cousins. Prosecutors have described it as the largest federal drug trial in West Tennessee. In a monotone voice, Broady showed little emotion as he testified about three killings and a kidnapping. Broady told jurors how an intermediary informed him that Petties wanted Latrell Small and Kalonji Griffin dead after finding out that they stole drugs from one of the ring's stash houses. Broady — whose nickname is "Killer" — said he asked Small and Griffin to join him on a robbery. After they met up, Broady jumped into the backseat of a car driven by Griffin. Small was in the passenger seat. Broady said he then pulled out two guns and aimed. "I shot both of them in the back of the head," he said. Broady said he received more than two pounds of cocaine for killing Small and Griffin in August 2004. Broady, who made of living of selling drugs and robbing other drug dealers, said he also was ordered by Petties to kill Mario Stewart in March 2005. Stewart had been suspected of wearing a wire during a conversation with a gang member. Broady said he hid in Stewart's garage for about an hour before Stewart entered. Broady then shot him four times. For the Stewart killing, Broady was paid $40,000, he testified. Broady also testified that he assisted Clinton Lewis, also known as "Goldie," in the kidnapping of Marcus Turner in September 2006. Broady said he left Turner in a house with Clinton Lewis and another gang member. The next day, Broady spoke with Petties, who was on a cell phone in Mexico. "Craig told me that Goldie had took care of it," Broady said. Prosecutor Greg Gilluly then asked what Broady thought that meant. "That Goldie killed him," Broady said. The other defendant, Martin Lewis, also known as "M," is charged with killing Mario McNeal while McNeal was eating at a Memphis restaurant in March 2007. Broady testified that Petties told him Martin Lewis had done the shooting. Defense attorneys have questioned the credibility other gang members who have testified, and are expected to do so when they cross-examine Broady on Monday. They say that the government's case is based on testimony from men who have admitted being gang members and could receive reduced charges and sentences in return for their cooperation. Earlier Thursday, a former gang member testified that he defied Petties by stealing about 370 pounds of cocaine from the organization and avoided Petties' attempt to kill him. Bobby Craft said he made about $4 million by selling the cocaine in Arkansas. Craft said he had returned to Memphis to pick up his 6-year-old son when he was approached by several vehicles outside of a home. Craft said he saw Clinton Lewis and Martin Lewis in the vehicles and suspected they were there to kill him. Craft began shooting and was able to escape, with his son in the backseat. He then led the Lewises and other members of the Petties gang to the interstate, using a semi-automatic handgun and a pistol in a shootout that lasted for 50 miles. "I knew what I was up against, so I was prepared," Craft said.

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