THE LINCHPIN witnesses in the racketeering/murder trial of reputed Philly drug boss Kaboni Savage were simply reading from the prosecution’s script, defense lawyer Christian Hoey said during his closing arguments yesterday.
Hoey spent nearly five hours calling out the witnesses as “case jumpers” who used “trial magic” to get lighter sentences. He dug into the shady backstories and shifting testimonies of federal witnesses that he said inaccurately paint Savage as the head of a highly organized and powerful drug operation.
Eugene “Twin” Coleman lost his mother, son and four other relatives in an October 2004 firebombing he said was ordered by Savage, his former friend and boss, in retaliation for Coleman’s cooperation with federal investigators. Savage is charged with murdering six others, most deeply enmeshed within the city’s drug trade.
The prosecution’s case draws heavily from testimony from Coleman and other insiders facing jail time, Hoey noted.
Lamont Lewis, who admitted to kicking in the door of Coleman’s mother’s home so that his cousin could toss in two gas cans, testified during the trial that he agreed to cooperate against Savage and the other defendants in the hopes of avoiding the death penalty after admitting to a total of 11 murders.
Hoey said Paul Daniels, son of late drug boss Gerald “Bubbie” Thomas, initially told investigators that Savage was running 10 to 15 kilograms of cocaine out of one of his houses in 2005, but that Daniels upped the weight to 25 to 50 when asked again in February.
The authorities wanted to nail Kaboni as a big-time kingpin pulling the strings, Hoey said, and they had few reservations about squeezing damning, questionable testimony from crooks looking for lighter sentences.
“That kind of motivation produces whatever the government wants to hear,” Hoey said, adding that physical evidence is lacking.
Coleman testified in March that he had overheard Savage vowing to “kill all the f—ing rats” while both men were detained at the Federal Court’s holding cells, and later watched as Savage ran a finger across his throat and smiled at him.
Hoey noted that no surveillance footage supports Coleman’s account, and the longtime drug dealer had little credibility among investigators before he started pointing fingers at Savage.
The attorney said that Coleman told authorities in 2003 that associate Kareem “Bree” Bluntly was behind the slayings of associates Tyrone Tolliver and Mansur “Shafiq” Abdullah, but that law enforcement doubted Coleman enough to let Bluntly remain free until he also was slain nine months later.
“They didn’t believe him then, so why should you now?” he asked the jury.
The defense is set to continue laying out their closing arguments over the coming days.