Over the next six weeks, jurors will be getting an exhaustive look at a group of North Miami youths who prosecutors say started out as school-yard brawlers and grew into a feared street gang known as the Terrorist Boyz.
The group brazenly raided a Broward County gun shop in March 2002, ramming a car through the front doors and stealing 33 firearms. Dressed in all-black, wearing ski masks and gloves, the Terrorist Boyz used the weapons and stolen cars to mount a series of “missions” to gun down their enemies, a prosecutor told jurors on Monday.
One member named Benson Cadet, according to the state, took part in four murders and 19 attempted murders in North Miami-Dade in 2002, a spate of violence that alarmed city leaders and led to the creation of a police task force.
“You are about to enter the world of violent Haitian gangs,” Miami-Dade prosecutor Joshua Weintraub told jurors Monday.
Cadet, 36, is the second reputed member of the Terrorist Boyz gang to go to trial after more than a decade of legal wrangling and delays. He faces possible execution if convicted. Five suspected members of the gang were indicted on murder charges in 2007. The Terrorist Boyz gang case has the notoriety of being the most expensive death-penalty case in recent Florida history.
The same jury declined to mete out the death penalty, and Jean-Marie is now serving life in prison.
As in the last trial, prosecutors will rely on testimony from police detectives, eyewitnesses and former gang members turned state witnesses. Cadet’s defense lawyer, Scott Sakin, told jurors that prosecutors are relying on scant evidence and the word of liars who got plea deals to stave off long prison sentences.
“Snitches, rats. Call them whatever you want,” Sakin said “These are people whose testimony has been bought and paid for.”
In all, detectives believe, the Terrorist Boyz gang was responsible for at least 12 killings and dozens of shootings, although gang members were only charged in nine murders. Cadet faces four murder counts, and is also charged with racketeering and conspiracy.
Among those killed in the Terrorist Boyz spree: a man the gang suspected of urinating on the flowers on the grave of one gang member’s murdered brother; a 13-year-old boy shot dead while riding his bicycle home; and Gertrude LeFleur, a pregnant woman who identified the gang’s ringleader as the man who robbed her.
A grand jury indicted Jean-Marie, Cadet, Max Daniel, Robert St. Germain and the suspected ringleader, Johnny Charles, also known as the “Angel of Death.”
St. Germain pleaded guilty three years ago and agreed to a 12-year prison sentence. Daniel and Charles are awaiting trial.