Gangfighters Weblog

June 14, 2007

Former Marine says pot deal went bad, resulting in throat-slashing

Filed under: gangs in the military — carterfsmith @ 9:59 am

By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Thursday, June 14, 2007

NAHA, Okinawa — It was a pot deal that went bad.

That’s the story Darian Preston Daniels stuck to for his three hours on the stand Tuesday during his trial for taking part in robbing a friend Oct. 25 and leaving him for dead.

Daniels, 29, a former Marine and the husband of a sailor, said he was merely acting as a liaison between two friends the night Marine Sgt. Michael Avinger, 30, slit Bryant White’s throat on Hamahiga Island.

Daniels said he was “like a brother” to Avinger since both men belonged to the same street gang, the Crips, back in the U.S. They came from different chapters of the infamous gang and didn’t know one another, but they met on Okinawa on Camp Courtney in August 2004, he said.

However, since the trial started May 1, the bond has been broken and they’ve each attempted to blame the other for the vicious mugging. Last week, Avinger said he cut White’s throat to save the man’s life, thinking Daniels would kill White if he didn’t act first.

He testified he intended just to make it look like White was dying, but he cut the man’s throat more deeply than he intended.

At the opening of the trial, White, 23, a former airman, claimed he was lured to the island on the promise they were going to meet some girls and was attacked by both men, who demanded a large amount of money Daniels had seen White’s wife throw at him during an argument on Oct. 17. He said Avinger sliced his throat, leaving a 7-inch scar, after Daniels demanded his money.

On Tuesday, Daniels said he had nothing to do with the robbery.

“It wasn’t supposed to be a crime scene,” he said. “It was supposed to be a marijuana transaction.”

Daniels said Avinger wanted to buy some marijuana from White and he drove with White to Hamahiga Island, following Avinger in a separate car, to make the purchase. He said he was leaning against his car watching White and Avinger talk when Avinger suddenly grabbed White and pressed a knife against his throat.

He said he heard Avinger ask White about the money and the marijuana.

White denied having any money. Then Daniels said he heard Avinger say: “If you don’t want me to kill you, stop playing with me.”

They talked some more, Daniels said.

“This is about your mouth writing checks your butt has to cash,” Daniels said he heard Avinger tell White.

Then Avinger cut White’s throat, Daniels said.

“Why didn’t you stop him?” the prosecutor asked.

“What was I supposed to do?” Daniels responded, raising his voice. “In the States — the United States — where I’m from, you don’t put a knife to someone’s throat unless you’re going to use it. So there was nothing I could say.”

Daniels said he never intended to rob White.

He said he signed a confession on Nov. 14 only because he was under duress after 21 days of interrogation by police.

“The police threatened the welfare of my wife and kids,” Daniels said.

The detectives told him that Avinger had confessed and implicated Daniel’s wife and threatened to arrest her on a charge of conspiracy if he did not admit his involvement, he testified.

“I wasn’t going to let them take my wife,” he said. “So, if they brought my wife in who would take care of my kids? So I told them what they wanted to hear, any man would do that if he loves his family.”

The next hearing in the case is set for June 26, when Daniels is scheduled to personally cross-examine Avinger.
http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54222&archive=true

Former Marine says pot deal went bad, resulting in throat-slashing

Filed under: gangs in the military — carterfsmith @ 9:59 am

By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Thursday, June 14, 2007

NAHA, Okinawa — It was a pot deal that went bad.

That’s the story Darian Preston Daniels stuck to for his three hours on the stand Tuesday during his trial for taking part in robbing a friend Oct. 25 and leaving him for dead.

Daniels, 29, a former Marine and the husband of a sailor, said he was merely acting as a liaison between two friends the night Marine Sgt. Michael Avinger, 30, slit Bryant White’s throat on Hamahiga Island.

Daniels said he was “like a brother” to Avinger since both men belonged to the same street gang, the Crips, back in the U.S. They came from different chapters of the infamous gang and didn’t know one another, but they met on Okinawa on Camp Courtney in August 2004, he said.

However, since the trial started May 1, the bond has been broken and they’ve each attempted to blame the other for the vicious mugging. Last week, Avinger said he cut White’s throat to save the man’s life, thinking Daniels would kill White if he didn’t act first.

He testified he intended just to make it look like White was dying, but he cut the man’s throat more deeply than he intended.

At the opening of the trial, White, 23, a former airman, claimed he was lured to the island on the promise they were going to meet some girls and was attacked by both men, who demanded a large amount of money Daniels had seen White’s wife throw at him during an argument on Oct. 17. He said Avinger sliced his throat, leaving a 7-inch scar, after Daniels demanded his money.

On Tuesday, Daniels said he had nothing to do with the robbery.

“It wasn’t supposed to be a crime scene,” he said. “It was supposed to be a marijuana transaction.”

Daniels said Avinger wanted to buy some marijuana from White and he drove with White to Hamahiga Island, following Avinger in a separate car, to make the purchase. He said he was leaning against his car watching White and Avinger talk when Avinger suddenly grabbed White and pressed a knife against his throat.

He said he heard Avinger ask White about the money and the marijuana.

White denied having any money. Then Daniels said he heard Avinger say: “If you don’t want me to kill you, stop playing with me.”

They talked some more, Daniels said.

“This is about your mouth writing checks your butt has to cash,” Daniels said he heard Avinger tell White.

Then Avinger cut White’s throat, Daniels said.

“Why didn’t you stop him?” the prosecutor asked.

“What was I supposed to do?” Daniels responded, raising his voice. “In the States — the United States — where I’m from, you don’t put a knife to someone’s throat unless you’re going to use it. So there was nothing I could say.”

Daniels said he never intended to rob White.

He said he signed a confession on Nov. 14 only because he was under duress after 21 days of interrogation by police.

“The police threatened the welfare of my wife and kids,” Daniels said.

The detectives told him that Avinger had confessed and implicated Daniel’s wife and threatened to arrest her on a charge of conspiracy if he did not admit his involvement, he testified.

“I wasn’t going to let them take my wife,” he said. “So, if they brought my wife in who would take care of my kids? So I told them what they wanted to hear, any man would do that if he loves his family.”

The next hearing in the case is set for June 26, when Daniels is scheduled to personally cross-examine Avinger.
http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54222&archive=true

June 13, 2007

Army apologizes to Guardsmen over tattoos

Filed under: gangs in the military — carterfsmith @ 3:01 pm

By MAGGIE SHEPARD
Scripps Howard News Service
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Though they say it’s a year late, New Mexico National Guard members are glad to receive an apology for the Army’s investigation into alleged gang tattoos while they served in Kuwait.

The apology arrived in a letter Monday from Brig. Gen. Rodney Johnson, the head of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. Members of the command carried out the probe, which included a partial strip search, on the New Mexico soldiers, Guard spokesman Maj. Ken Nava said.

Johnson writes “to personally apologize” in his letter. He writes that when he learned the “situation had caused one of you to state that you ‘didn’t feel like an American today,’ I knew that this investigation had been gravely mishandled.”

Nava said the apology is welcome, even though it comes a year after the incident.

“Our general called for an apology when it happened in 2006. Here we are a year later,” Nava said.

The May 2006 search of 60 members of the New Mexico unit was prompted by a soldier’s report that he had seen Chicago-area gang tattoos on a Hispanic soldier. The Hispanic soldier was not from New Mexico, and it was never explained what led an investigator to the New Mexico unit.

The New Mexico Guard members were ordered to take off their clothes down to athletic shorts and were looked over for gang tattoos. No tattoos were found.

Though the investigator who conducted the search has been cleared of any illegal action, Johnson issued the formal apology.

Adjutant Gen. Kenny Montoya, commander of the New Mexico Guard, had immediately called the search racially motivated and illegal. He asked for an apology and called for the removal of some top Army leaders.

“In the Army, if you apologize, it means you take responsibility for something,” Montoya said in April. “Somewhere along the line, general officers forgot that’s part of their responsibility.”

The 60 New Mexicans who were searched were members of Task Force Cobra, a 190-member collection of members from various New Mexico units that provided convoy security in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar from November 2005 to November 2006.

The search occurred after the unit had returned to Kuwait from a stint in Iraq.

http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/24142

Army apologizes to Guardsmen over tattoos

Filed under: gangs in the military — carterfsmith @ 3:01 pm

By MAGGIE SHEPARD
Scripps Howard News Service
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Though they say it’s a year late, New Mexico National Guard members are glad to receive an apology for the Army’s investigation into alleged gang tattoos while they served in Kuwait.

The apology arrived in a letter Monday from Brig. Gen. Rodney Johnson, the head of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. Members of the command carried out the probe, which included a partial strip search, on the New Mexico soldiers, Guard spokesman Maj. Ken Nava said.

Johnson writes “to personally apologize” in his letter. He writes that when he learned the “situation had caused one of you to state that you ‘didn’t feel like an American today,’ I knew that this investigation had been gravely mishandled.”

Nava said the apology is welcome, even though it comes a year after the incident.

“Our general called for an apology when it happened in 2006. Here we are a year later,” Nava said.

The May 2006 search of 60 members of the New Mexico unit was prompted by a soldier’s report that he had seen Chicago-area gang tattoos on a Hispanic soldier. The Hispanic soldier was not from New Mexico, and it was never explained what led an investigator to the New Mexico unit.

The New Mexico Guard members were ordered to take off their clothes down to athletic shorts and were looked over for gang tattoos. No tattoos were found.

Though the investigator who conducted the search has been cleared of any illegal action, Johnson issued the formal apology.

Adjutant Gen. Kenny Montoya, commander of the New Mexico Guard, had immediately called the search racially motivated and illegal. He asked for an apology and called for the removal of some top Army leaders.

“In the Army, if you apologize, it means you take responsibility for something,” Montoya said in April. “Somewhere along the line, general officers forgot that’s part of their responsibility.”

The 60 New Mexicans who were searched were members of Task Force Cobra, a 190-member collection of members from various New Mexico units that provided convoy security in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar from November 2005 to November 2006.

The search occurred after the unit had returned to Kuwait from a stint in Iraq.

http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/24142

June 7, 2007

Two soldiers arraigned in beating death tied to gang initiation

Filed under: gangs in the military — carterfsmith @ 9:59 pm

By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, June 7, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two soldiers were arraigned Wednesday in the gang-initiation beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

Sgt. Rodney H. Howell and Pfc. Terrence A. Norman appeared in court at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern but did not enter a plea.

Howell is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, conspiracy and making a false official statement. His trial is scheduled for July 23 at Taylor Barracks in Mannheim.

Norman is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, obstruction of justice, making a false official statement and conspiracy. His trial is set for July 16 at Kleber.

Norman and Howell are each accused of punching Johnson 20 or more times during a July 3, 2005, gang initiation ceremony. Johnson, 25, of the 66th Transportation Company, died the next day of multiple blunt force injuries.

Norman and Howell are among five soldiers who have faced charges in the death. Some of the past developments in the case include:

n Last week, a military judge removed the lawyers prosecuting Spc. Bobby Morrissette for his role in the death. He was facing various charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Those charges were dismissed, but prosecutors had requested a new hearing to reconsider.

n On May 7, Army Staff Sgt. Alre L. Hudson faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, hazing, aggravated assault and conspiracy in connection with the death at an Article 32 hearing.

n On March 27, Pfc. Latisha Ellis admitted to giving a false official statement at a summary court-martial as part of a deal. She saw the beating and is a key witness in the case. She remains the only soldier convicted of a crime in connection with the death.
http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54063&archive=true

Two soldiers arraigned in beating death tied to gang initiation

Filed under: gangs in the military — carterfsmith @ 9:59 pm

By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, June 7, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two soldiers were arraigned Wednesday in the gang-initiation beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

Sgt. Rodney H. Howell and Pfc. Terrence A. Norman appeared in court at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern but did not enter a plea.

Howell is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, conspiracy and making a false official statement. His trial is scheduled for July 23 at Taylor Barracks in Mannheim.

Norman is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, obstruction of justice, making a false official statement and conspiracy. His trial is set for July 16 at Kleber.

Norman and Howell are each accused of punching Johnson 20 or more times during a July 3, 2005, gang initiation ceremony. Johnson, 25, of the 66th Transportation Company, died the next day of multiple blunt force injuries.

Norman and Howell are among five soldiers who have faced charges in the death. Some of the past developments in the case include:

n Last week, a military judge removed the lawyers prosecuting Spc. Bobby Morrissette for his role in the death. He was facing various charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Those charges were dismissed, but prosecutors had requested a new hearing to reconsider.

n On May 7, Army Staff Sgt. Alre L. Hudson faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, hazing, aggravated assault and conspiracy in connection with the death at an Article 32 hearing.

n On March 27, Pfc. Latisha Ellis admitted to giving a false official statement at a summary court-martial as part of a deal. She saw the beating and is a key witness in the case. She remains the only soldier convicted of a crime in connection with the death.
http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54063&archive=true

Two soldiers arraigned in beating death tied to gang initiation

Filed under: gangs in the military — carterfsmith @ 2:03 pm

By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, June 7, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two soldiers were arraigned Wednesday in the gang-initiation beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

Sgt. Rodney H. Howell and Pfc. Terrence A. Norman appeared in court at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern but did not enter a plea.

Howell is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, conspiracy and making a false official statement. His trial is scheduled for July 23 at Taylor Barracks in Mannheim.

Norman is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, obstruction of justice, making a false official statement and conspiracy. His trial is set for July 16 at Kleber.

Norman and Howell are each accused of punching Johnson 20 or more times during a July 3, 2005, gang initiation ceremony. Johnson, 25, of the 66th Transportation Company, died the next day of multiple blunt force injuries.

Norman and Howell are among five soldiers who have faced charges in the death. Some of the past developments in the case include:

n Last week, a military judge removed the lawyers prosecuting Spc. Bobby Morrissette for his role in the death. He was facing various charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Those charges were dismissed, but prosecutors had requested a new hearing to reconsider.

n On May 7, Army Staff Sgt. Alre L. Hudson faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, hazing, aggravated assault and conspiracy in connection with the death at an Article 32 hearing.

n On March 27, Pfc. Latisha Ellis admitted to giving a false official statement at a summary court-martial as part of a deal. She saw the beating and is a key witness in the case. She remains the only soldier convicted of a crime in connection with the death.

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54063&archive=true

Two soldiers arraigned in beating death tied to gang initiation

Filed under: gangs in the military — carterfsmith @ 2:03 pm

By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, June 7, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two soldiers were arraigned Wednesday in the gang-initiation beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

Sgt. Rodney H. Howell and Pfc. Terrence A. Norman appeared in court at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern but did not enter a plea.

Howell is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, conspiracy and making a false official statement. His trial is scheduled for July 23 at Taylor Barracks in Mannheim.

Norman is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, obstruction of justice, making a false official statement and conspiracy. His trial is set for July 16 at Kleber.

Norman and Howell are each accused of punching Johnson 20 or more times during a July 3, 2005, gang initiation ceremony. Johnson, 25, of the 66th Transportation Company, died the next day of multiple blunt force injuries.

Norman and Howell are among five soldiers who have faced charges in the death. Some of the past developments in the case include:

n Last week, a military judge removed the lawyers prosecuting Spc. Bobby Morrissette for his role in the death. He was facing various charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Those charges were dismissed, but prosecutors had requested a new hearing to reconsider.

n On May 7, Army Staff Sgt. Alre L. Hudson faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, hazing, aggravated assault and conspiracy in connection with the death at an Article 32 hearing.

n On March 27, Pfc. Latisha Ellis admitted to giving a false official statement at a summary court-martial as part of a deal. She saw the beating and is a key witness in the case. She remains the only soldier convicted of a crime in connection with the death.

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54063&archive=true

Two soldiers arraigned in beating death tied to gang initiation

Filed under: gangs in the military — carterfsmith @ 9:59 am

By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, June 7, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two soldiers were arraigned Wednesday in the gang-initiation beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

Sgt. Rodney H. Howell and Pfc. Terrence A. Norman appeared in court at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern but did not enter a plea.

Howell is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, conspiracy and making a false official statement. His trial is scheduled for July 23 at Taylor Barracks in Mannheim.

Norman is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, obstruction of justice, making a false official statement and conspiracy. His trial is set for July 16 at Kleber.

Norman and Howell are each accused of punching Johnson 20 or more times during a July 3, 2005, gang initiation ceremony. Johnson, 25, of the 66th Transportation Company, died the next day of multiple blunt force injuries.

Norman and Howell are among five soldiers who have faced charges in the death. Some of the past developments in the case include:

n Last week, a military judge removed the lawyers prosecuting Spc. Bobby Morrissette for his role in the death. He was facing various charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Those charges were dismissed, but prosecutors had requested a new hearing to reconsider.

n On May 7, Army Staff Sgt. Alre L. Hudson faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, hazing, aggravated assault and conspiracy in connection with the death at an Article 32 hearing.

n On March 27, Pfc. Latisha Ellis admitted to giving a false official statement at a summary court-martial as part of a deal. She saw the beating and is a key witness in the case. She remains the only soldier convicted of a crime in connection with the death.
http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54063&archive=true

Two soldiers arraigned in beating death tied to gang initiation

Filed under: gangs in the military — carterfsmith @ 9:59 am

By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, June 7, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two soldiers were arraigned Wednesday in the gang-initiation beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

Sgt. Rodney H. Howell and Pfc. Terrence A. Norman appeared in court at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern but did not enter a plea.

Howell is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, conspiracy and making a false official statement. His trial is scheduled for July 23 at Taylor Barracks in Mannheim.

Norman is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, obstruction of justice, making a false official statement and conspiracy. His trial is set for July 16 at Kleber.

Norman and Howell are each accused of punching Johnson 20 or more times during a July 3, 2005, gang initiation ceremony. Johnson, 25, of the 66th Transportation Company, died the next day of multiple blunt force injuries.

Norman and Howell are among five soldiers who have faced charges in the death. Some of the past developments in the case include:

n Last week, a military judge removed the lawyers prosecuting Spc. Bobby Morrissette for his role in the death. He was facing various charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Those charges were dismissed, but prosecutors had requested a new hearing to reconsider.

n On May 7, Army Staff Sgt. Alre L. Hudson faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, hazing, aggravated assault and conspiracy in connection with the death at an Article 32 hearing.

n On March 27, Pfc. Latisha Ellis admitted to giving a false official statement at a summary court-martial as part of a deal. She saw the beating and is a key witness in the case. She remains the only soldier convicted of a crime in connection with the death.
http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54063&archive=true

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