Bribes, death threats and witness intimidation -- Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says all three came into play with 10 people charged on Monday.
In spring 2006, rival gangs in Minneapolis collided and Christopher Lynch, whose cousin was affiliated with the Tre Tre Crips, was shot about a dozen times. Lamonte Martin, Cornelius Jackson and Jonard McDaniel -- all from the gang 1-9 Dipset -- were eventually convicted in the murder.
Yet several years later, investigators say the case is far from closed. Martin , the so-called ring leader, has appealed his case and it's currently under advisement with the Minnesota Supreme Court.
For the past two years, the Department of Corrections and Minneapolis police have pieced together letters, prison phone calls and other evidence that they content shows how Martin and nine others have threatened and intimidated witness who testified during their trials. Some of those witnesses were either out of prison or still serving time for other crimes.
"They were beat up and were told, 'We are going to beat you up every day, every time we find you, until you sign this false affidavit,'" Freeman said.
Investigators claim one witness even had his throat cut during a prison fight. Others received death threats aimed at their children and family members, but still kept quiet.
"The action of filing the false affidavits was really the final straw that enabled us to bring as comprehensive a case as we could here," says Freeman.
In addition to the10 people prosecutors charged on Monday, prosecutors are planning to charge Martin's mother on Tuesday. Investigators say Heidi Martin funneled money into prison to help her son make bribes -- but that isn't all. Detectives claim she used money orders from a vulnerable adult -- a client of hers at All Home Caring -- to get the cash. .
"I understand moms loving their kids, but you don't bribe people," Freeman said.
Prosecutors point out that Martin needed the recanted testimony to have a chance with his appeal. If his appeal is successful, it may help Jackson and McDaniel as well.
"This is a case that presents chilling facts, and anyone who is concerned about justice and the delivery of justice should be frightened by the steps the defendants in this case took," warned Deputy Minneapolis Police Chief Rob Allen.
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