Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz, in a 27-page opinion, has dismissed count 1 of an indictment brought against most of the 55 members of the Athens Park Bloods gang by the District Attorney's Office. The ruling did not affect a few of the defendants.
Judge Greenholtz said, "Count I fails to allege the existence of two predicate acts occurring within two years of each other, and as such, fails to establish 'a pattern of racketeering activity' as defined by Tenn. Code Ann. S 39-12-203(6)."
The judge said he also has "outstanding issues" about the second count of the indictment.
The indictments had been brought after the state passed a RICO statute aimed at curtailing activities of street gangs.
However, defense attorneys brought a host of objections to the prosecution. Several attorneys had sought to be allowed out of the case, saying there was an overwhelming amount of evidence to go through. That included hundreds of hours of taped jail conversations.
Judge Greenholtz said in an attachment to the ruling:
· Memorandum Opinion: The attached document is a memorandum opinion that addresses the issues raised in (Jadarius) Bowling Motion No. 7 as they relate to Count 1 of the superseding presentment. These issues have also been addressed in several other motions, and the Court will enter separate orders in all of the cases (and joinders) where these issues have been raised. A few cases are not affected by this opinion, and the Court will later address the remaining issues in those cases.
· August 26, 2019 – Status Conference: This upcoming Monday is a check-in date for persons on bail. Waivers of appearance are always welcome and preferred.
The Court has outstanding issues related to Count 2 of the presentment, and it therefore does not anticipate hearing substantive motions on August 26 prior to that decision. As always, however, the Court will schedule for special hearing any issues that require attention.
· Severance: While the issues related to Count 2 remain, the Court would like to hear from affected parties initially about severing now the following Counts from the main RICO action, with each forming its own separate case under a unique scheduling order: Count 3 (Cortez Sims); Count 4(Collier, Arnold, and J. Clemmons); Count 10 (High); Count 11 (Grier); Count 12 (High); Counts 13, 24 and 25 (Bragg and Grier); Counts 14 and 15 (McReynolds); Count 16 (High); Count 17 (High).
· September 30, 2019 – Status Conference: The Court anticipates a status conference in September after further orders have been entered. At that time, the Court would invite thoughts as to the severance or consolidation of the RICO cases, as well as how all the cases related to Bianca Horton’s murder should be severed or consolidated.
As part of the prosecution the state is seeking the death penalty against Andre Grier, Courtney High and Charles Shelton in the slaying of state witness Bianca Horton.
Click here to read the opinion.