A Chattanooga gang member who is also facing a murder charge was sentenced on Monday to a six-year term in federal prison for selling drugs.
Martrel "Tricky Trel" Arnold, who earlier was indicted in state court as a member of the Athens Park Bloods gang, appeared before Judge Sandy Mattice.
Arnold is charged along with Cordell Collier and Johnny Clemons in the murder of 32-year-old Cedric "Blinky" Mikes. Officers found Mikes shot to death in a car on South Terrace around 2 a.m. on a Wednesday morning in late June 2014.
Prosecutor Chris Poole said Arnold should be classified as a Career Offender in federal court except for a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that he said had a "ludicrous" effect. The ruling was that conspiracy to sell drugs could not count toward the "three strikes" (felony convictions) leading to being classed as a Career Offender.
Instead of facing as much as 388 months, Arnold fell into a sentencing range of 46-57 months. Prosecutor Poole said the judge could vary much higher and recommended 188 months.
Attorney Brian O'Shaughnessy argued for a sentence within the guideline range. He said Arnold had been to federal prison before, but always came back to the same bad environment. He said Arnold's mother lives in Atlanta and he wants to move there.
Prosecutor Poole said, "He sells drugs for a living. That's what he does."
Arnold, 34, maintained that he can work on the legitimate side. He said, "I know how to work. I ain't no threat to society."
He said he wanted to spend time with his family, including his four-year-old son who was in the audience. He said, "I know this is my last chance."
Prosecutor Poole noted that Arnold had been sent away earlier on a 63-month sentence. He said he got out and then violated the terms of his probation before getting caught in another drug ring.
Arnold's name came up earlier in state court when a gang expert was explaining what had led to a string of retaliatory gang killings in Chattanooga.
Bobby Johnson was pinpointed as a central figure in a beef between two Bloods gangs that led to the violence. Johnson was identified by the gang expert as a leader of the Bounty Hunters, a gang that has been feuding with the Athens Park Bloods.
The gang expert, testifying in state court at a hearing for Cortez Sims, said the incident that sparked a wave of violence started when several hundred people, including many gang members, crowded into Terry's Lounge on 6th Avenue. He said Martrel Arnold had just gotten out of prison and was upset with Johnson. The witness said Arnold felt that Johnson "had been messing around with one of his girlfriends."
He said that night a fight broke out between the two Bloods sects and it "sparked a violent beef."
The witness said soon afterward shots were fired into a house on Central Avenue occupied by the aunt and uncle of an Athens Park Bloods member. The victims said they were told that the Bounty Hunters were responsible.
Then on Jan. 20, 2014, multiple shots were fired into a home on E. 50th Street with one of the shots killing 13-year-old Deontrey Southers, the step-son of Johnson. Athens Park Bloods were blamed.
The witness said since that time some want the feud to end, but he said, "Bobby Johnson has a vendetta against the Athens Park Bloods. He doesn't want it to end. He feels like it is still not even."