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Friday, April 20, 2007

Intimidated witnesses and bad news coverage

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2007 at 4:59 PM

Ever since 18-year-old Shawrica Lester was tragically gunned down outside an Akron nightclub, Summit County prosecutors have struggled to bring her killers to justice, thanks to being out maneuvered by a bunch of shitheads better known as the V-not street gang. Several members, including 17-year-old Tyree Feaster, were charged with Lester's murder immediately after the January shooting. Since then, V-not has been busy terrorizing anyone willing to testify. They've launched death threats against state witnesses and even made stops at the homes of Lester's friends and relatives, claiming they were raising money for a defense fund. This week, V-not's antics proved effective when two witnesses failed to show up at a hearing to have Feaster tried as an adult. Instead, he got off with a cool four years in juvenile detention, even after he admitted to firing his gun into the crowd. But The Akron Beacon Journal wrote that "prosecutors insist that gang members whose threats kept two witnesses from testifying Wednesday did not win a softer sentence for [Feaster]." Was the prosecutor's office that embarrassed by being outdone by a bunch of illiterate thugs? C-Notes had to find out, so we called prosecutor Paula Sawyers, who handled the case. Based on our little talk, it turns out that it was the Beacon that fucked up. "I didn't say that," Sawyers says. "On the contrary, I said [the gang's threats] certainly did affect the outcome of this case. [Four years] was not the ideal outcome — I would have loved to see him bound over, but [four years] was better than watching him just walk out of the courtroom, which was the situation we faced without our key witnesses." Sawyers doesn't know where the witnesses vanished to. That's a big problem, seeing as she has three more V-not members to try. "We reminded their family members of our witness protection program," she says. "We just hope they take us up on using it." — Denise Grollmus
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