The James Rosemond Trial
By Don Sikorski
With the start of day two of the trial, news came from the defense that in the 4,000 pages of Facebook posts handed over by the United States Attorney, there is the possibility that those posts contain “Brady Material.” “Brady Material” is any information, reports, records, documents, or anything else held in the possession of the prosecutor that is exculpatory or potentially exculpatory for the defendant. It is called “Brady Material” after the Supreme Court case that handed down the decision that prosecutors were required to give such material to the defense in Brady v. Maryland. “Brady Material” is requested and required in every case
The material in question is messages and communication on Facebook by Jason Williams, the government’s star witness. Williams worked for Jimmy at Czar Entertainment, and the few times I met him, he was always a quiet, office worker who ran errands. He also was an assistant to Jimmy in the music business. Jason, Jimmy’s driver, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder when the government brought the initial case against Jimmy for the murder of Lowell Fletcher. Jason took a plea deal that put him in jail for twenty years. Williams pleaded guilty to driving the car the night the murder crew shot and killed Fletcher. The government asked him to testify against Jimmy; however, Williams refused to take the stand in the first and second trials. I was informed through confidential sources that the government told Williams if he would now testify against Jimmy, he would not serve anywhere close to twenty-years. He would be home with his family in time for Christmas. It is rumored that his possessions had already been shipped to his mother’s house.
The government is giving the defense the Facebook posts; however, you have to understand that the federal prison inmates have a robust life on social media. Williams was allowed to send and receive messages, and now, the content of that information is admissible in the Criminal Justice System. The defense has to review all of this information and pinpoint any communication between Jimmy and Jason. They are looking for any “Brady Material” that they can use at the last minute. It is presumed that Jason will be the last witness the government will call to the stand.
It seems simple enough; the only obstacle is a race against the clock to read through this material. However, the United States Attorney did not make this process easy. He will not allow the defense to actually possess this discovery information. The mandate for the defense is a lawyer has to read the evidence while he/she is being monitored by a U. S. Attorney in his office. How is this a fair practice? Why is a defendant not allowed to go through the information while he is in jail? Why can’t his legal defense review the material at home or anywhere for that matter?
The government’s excuse is pretty standard in these circumstances: They will state that there is personal information and/or pictures in these posts, which they deem confidential. They will present the argument of security of witnesses in order to again run a game of deflection, where the only person who is hurt is the defendant facing a life in jail.The average citizen does not have any idea how long it takes to examine 4,000 pages of information. The government makes it even more difficult because the information is dumped on your lap and out of order. Often, it is presented in a software program, which creates great difficulties in getting access to the information unless you have a computer degree. The timeline is laughable as the examination of the evidence often times is done a few days before the trial or sometimes in just twenty-four hours. Is this fair or just?
As day two progressed, the government set the table for the jury. They called Claude Crooks, a security guard from the Bronx, to testify. He stated that he saw a tall, muscular male dressed in all black shoot at Lowell Fletcher. On cross examination, David Touger, Jimmy’s lawyer, asked Crooks if he saw anyone’s face the night of the murder. Crook replied NO! At this point, the only information presented to the jury is a medical examiner stating that Fletcher died of gunshots wounds. Additionally, a crime scene investigator presented seven shell casings, and a good Samaritan nurse spoke about giving CPR to Fletcher’s body.
The government methodically explained the crime scene; however, they did not present how and where Fletcher died. The questions have been tedious. In fact, during a brief break, Judge Kaplan basically admonished the government for their slow pace, and a deluge of information that basically told the jury that Fletcher had indeed been shot and killed. He told the U. S. Attorney, Sam Enser, that the four-hour dissemination of information could have been summarized in ten minutes. In the afternoon session, the government presented one of the key witnesses to their case. He is an individual who has testified in Jimmy’s Drug Kingpin case, as well as two, prior murder trials. He is being given a great opportunity to shape, hone, and communicate the most damaging testimony. Mohammed Stewart or Tef was an associate of Jimmy; he was self-described muscle, who was not afraid to shoot, maim, or intimidate anyone. There is no doubt that Tef was a hired gun, and as the government questioned him, he explained that he was the main aggressor in the Hip-Hop feud that started when Jimmy’s thirteen-year-old son was assaulted by members of G-Unit. G-Unit, the record label started by 50 Cent, included Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks. The government spent some painstaking time walking the jury through this clash of record labels, where Jimmy and his cohorts sought revenge against 50 Cent, Chris Lighty, Tony Yayo, and a street thug named Baja Walters. For a jury member, who has no knowledge of Hip-Hop or the underbelly of the business that ties street beef with music, drugs, and guns, his testimony would sound odd and unfamiliar.
Tef stated that he followed Jimmy’s instructions concerning various incidents that Tef planned and executed. These incidents were interesting because they didn’t actually include the motivation to murder anyone. It seemed as if the whole point was to shoot up cars, houses, and office buildings. There were no intentions to shoot anyone. The firebombing of cars, the shooting of bulletproof trucks, and the shooting of empty office vestibules were done many times when no one was present. Tef, did admit on the stand, that for the majority of these incidents, he was alone and making these moves on his own accord. At times, Tef seemed to assume the identity of The Gang who couldn’t shoot straight. Additionally, Tef testified that he was joined by Jimmy or that Jimmy participated in random shootings, such as the one at Tony Yayo’s house. I am sure some of the jurors wondered why these Hip Hop stars, who were traveling the globe, would risk their prestige by participating in random, gun violence. What the jury will not hear is that in a prior drug case, Tef wore a wire for almost a year. He also recorded phone conversations between himself and Jimmy. I had an opportunity to listen to all of these recordings by reviewing the Legal Discovery. During the time that Tef states he was a big-time, drug dealer, sometimes moving more than 100 kilos of drugs, there was not one recording of Jimmy talking about any crimes he had committed.
David Touger, on cross-examination, did a good job in pointing out a key fact to the jury. For most of Tef’s life, he has been lying to cops, lawyers, judges, and anyone else involved in the Criminal Justice System. It is no secret that his criminal history and his previous crimes involving gun violence would have put him jail for more than twenty years. His testimony for the government in four trials has allowed him to be a free man. It is rumored that he lives in Atlanta. The phrase, “Jimmy told me to do it “ has been Tef’s get-out-of jail, free calling card that he has used again and again. Touger also pointed out at times, Tef couldn’t get in contact with Jimmy, because he would change his cell phone number. If Tef was so close to Jimmy, why wouldn’t Jimmy notify him of this?
In closing, there are big questions to ask. Tef was not involved in any part of the murder of Lowell Fletcher. He was not involved in the conspiracy; however, he did say that Jimmy shared information with him about the shooting of Fletcher. Can the government have it both ways? Can they paint Jimmy as this criminal mastermind, who simply talked about murder plots in everyday conversation? Or is Tef telling the honest truth? The government is using Tef to paint a picture of Jimmy for the jury: Was Tef successful in presenting Jimmy as a drug dealer? Previously, had Jimmy been a part of the violence? Unfortunately, when it comes to proving beyond a reasonable doubt, Tef’s canvas reflects the violence of the world he lived in. Additionally, it is possible that he had some knowledge about the murder of Lowell Fletcher, but he did not give any information concerning a conspiracy.