Ajury of 12 began deliberations in earnest as the new week began in the federal racketeering trial in Winston-Salem of five North Carolina Latin Kings and an associate.
Supporters held banners outside the federal building denouncing the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and calling for the defendants’ freedom on Monday as the jurors set about the task of determining whether the US government has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jorge Cornell and five other defendants are guilty of engaging in racketeering acts. A verdict had not been reached when court resumed at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
The six defendants each face 20 years in prison if convicted, and Cornell, the undisputed leader of the North Carolina Latin Kings, could face life if, in addition to racketeering, he is found guilty of aiding and abetting an assault with a dangerous weapon or carrying a shotgun in relation to the shooting of a construction worker at Maplewood Apartments in Greensboro in April 2008.
“Given the length of the trial your time deliberating is not out of the ordinary,” Beaty told the jurors on Monday, before excusing them at about 5:15 p.m.
The jurors had requested the opportunity to review several pieces of evidence, including a video documenting Cornell’s arrest for obstructing a law enforcement officer while campaigning for city council in 2009, financial information related to a house on Kirkman Street that burned down and had been owned by the grandmother of a Latin King, rosters, mug shots and envelopes from correspondence between defendants Randolph Kilfoil and Russell Kilfoil.
The prosecution and six courtappointed lawyers for the defendants made final arguments on Nov. 16, closing a week that saw the defense put on a lightning-fast case, calling only nine witnesses compared to the 100-plus former Latin Kings, law enforcement officers, experts and civilian witnesses who took the stand for the government.
Lee-Dixon’s argument centered on Cornell’s alleged role in a string of offenses that the government characteriz number of defendants committed a variety of crimes,” he said. “But that’s not what you’re being asked to decide…. Just because Latin Kings committed crimes does not mean that the Latin Kings were a criminal enterprise. They have to connect the crimes to the enterprise. A lot of it might have been freelance work — people who were Latin Kings at one time who decided to commit a crime for personal purposes.”
The jurors’ interest in evidence pertaining to Cornell’s arrest during his 2009 Greensboro City Council campaign goes to the structure of the alleged racketeering enterprise. The government has built layer upon layer of evidence about the Latin Kings’ preference for the colors gold and black, the group’s use of hand signs, the greeting “amor de rey,” various stages of initiation leading to full membership, meetes as racketeering acts, and emphasized his leadership role.