A federal judge made one message clear as she sentenced two additional members of the Manatee crime ring who resorted to murder and other violence to further their drug trade and instilled fear in the community since at least 2006: Manatee County does not want you back.
Like those before them, Napoleon “Pole” “Mr. 760” Harris, 32, and Jerry “Jerk” Green, 30, each got multiple life sentences on Wednesday.
But as consistent as U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich has been in her rulings, she has also repeated the same message to each of the four defendants to appear before her for sentencing so far this week.
“They do not want any you back in their community,” Kovachevich said during Green’s sentencing Wednesday afternoon. “That’s the feeling of the community and it came loud and clear.”
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Kovachevich said she had never presided over a case like this one in her 44 years as a judge, nor had she ever seen a community stand up against defendants as residents from Manatee County had against the six men in this case.
“I have heard them loud and clear,” she said earlier Wednesday to Harris.
On Sept. 8, a federal court jury of 12 found Harris guilty of racketeering conspiracy, including the kidnapping of Calvin Barnes, 16; conspiracy to drug trafficking; the murder of Demetrius Cunningham; and being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition. Green was found guilty of racketeering conspiracy, including the conspiracy to murder and murder of Carlos Jurado, 26; conspiracy to drug trafficking; and the murders of Ceola D. “Bo” Lazier, 31, and Jurado.
On Wednesday morning, Harris received three life sentences, two of which will run concurrently. Green was sentenced to four life prison terms Wednesday afternoon, two of which are to be served concurrently.
On Tuesday, Nathaniel “Popo” Harris, 24, was sentenced to four life sentences, two of which he will serve concurrently, plus an additional 100 years. Deonte “Tang” Martin, 26, was sentenced to three life sentences, plus an additional 25 years.
Green and Harris, like their co-defendants who have been sentenced already, maintained their innocence of any of the murders despite even after family members of the victims addressed them directly.
Deatrice Jones, Barnes’ mother, was the only one from the community to speak at Napoleon Harris’ hearing. Unlike his brother, Nathaniel Harris, or Martin, Napoleon turned to face Jones and those in the courtroom gallery.
Jones wanted to know how he could have kidnapped her son, Calvin, who had looked up to him. She had known Harris since he was a kid, she insisted.
“Just apologize,” Jones pleaded as Harris looked directly at her.
She asked for herself, and for the community because they needed an apology for closure. Despite anything, Jones said she loved Harris’ son, who was her own cousin, and that she would never turn her back on him.
“Say something,” Jones pleaded as Harris looked directly at her. “Nobody has said anything.”
When it was his opportunity to speak, Harris insisted he had played no role in Barnes’ kidnapping or murder, nor had he played a role in Cunningham’s murder — but he did offer an apology.
“To the family and loved ones who lost a loved one, especially all the mothers, I’m truly sorry,” Harris said. “No matter how old a child gets, it doesn’t get easier.”
Outside the federal courthouse Wednesday afternoon, Jones and her family said they accepted his apology. And it has been the only apology heard at any of the sentencing hearings so far.
Five family members of the victims in Green’s case spoke during his hearing.
Tesha Lazier, cousin to Lazier and another murder victim in the case, Brenton Coleman Sr., said she had sat through the entire trial because she had to hear and see the evidence for herself. As others in her family had testified, Green had been taken in by a member of her family, and so she had grown up considering him a cousin, too, so it had been disappointing to learn what he did.
“Today I want you to take ownership,” she said. “We were family, and it was a bond that not supposed to be broken, especially this way.”
But it was Lazier’s mother, Rosemary Lazier, who delivered the longest statement, maintaining her composure while bringing many to tears.
Rosemary Lazier spoke of her son in detail before recalling the night he was murdered, describing the last conversation she had with him that was soon followed by his sister screaming that “Bo” had been shot.
“It’s been four and half years since Bo’s demise, and my husband still won’t talk about it,” she said. “None could replace a child. ... Nothing could replace my ‘Bo.’”
Throughout the trial, there were times when she would sit out to not see the images of her dead son, but she was most horrified when she heard a witness testify that he was forced to be the getaway driver for Green and co-defendant Charlie Green, as both laughed.
People know the movie, “Nightmare on Elm Street,” Lazier said.
“My family has to deal with the nightmare on 24th Street,” she added.
Everyday on her way home from work, she must pass 24th Street, she said, and every day she forces herself to look forward because if she looks left or right, she is faced with the scenes of where her son and nephew were murdered.
Lazier mentioned the Black Lives Matter movement before wrapping up, finding the irony that Green and all his co-defendants were black. But all the victims weren’t black, and Jurado’s life had also mattered.
“All lives mattered,” adding that red blood and colorless tears had been shed as a result of all the slayings.
The remaining two defendants in the crime ring will be sentenced Thursday. Their hearings are scheduled as follows:
▪ Charlie “Mr. 30N32” Green, 10 a.m.
▪ Corey “James” Harris, 1:30 p.m.