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Three Weeks After Felton Murder Shown In SDNY Willie Reeves Who Watched Gets 87 Months

By Matthew Russell Lee, Periscope, Photos

SDNY COURTHOUSE, July 10 – Three weeks after James Felton was found guilty after a jury trial including video of him shooting Marvin Harris to death on East 175th Street in the Bronx, Willie Reeves who was portrayed watching the murder as part of the 240 E. 175 St drug conspiracy came up for sentencing.

  Defense attorney Aaron M. Goldsmith spoke with family and friends of Reeves out in hall while U.S. District Court for the Southern District Judge William H. Pauley III finished up with a defendant describes as clearing up matters in The Bronx whom Judge Pauley advised to look for a job in an economy he described as thriving.

  As Inner City Press jotted this line down Reeves family members filed in. Taking detailed notes no longer seemed appropriate. They listened as Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Balsamello described Reeves as merely watching the murder of Harris who had come to visit him. A family member next to Inner City Press shook her head vehemently.

  When it was Reeves' turn to speak he was understandably shook up, facing up to 108 months in prison. He first called Judge Pauley Mister Goldsmith, then Mister Pauley Three.

Ultimately Goldsmith who had emphasized his work as a barber in the MCC and MDS read the statement, while alluding to but not requesting a Fatico hearing on whether it was proper to punish a defendant like Reeves who had pled guilty but declined to cooperate.

  Judge Pauley got the family's attention by acknowledging that Reeves' brother had been killed. He went on to say that Reeves' list of accomplishments was thin. He called the government's exhibit of synchronized video of the shootings, apparently never uploaded or distributed to the media by the U.S. Attorney's office despite a Press request, the most riveting he has seen in 21 years on the bench, and the most troubling, that no one helped.

Judge Pauley imposed a sentence on Reeves at the lower end of the guidelines: 87 months with five years of supervised release.

Reeves said he wants to be a community organizer. Inner City Press will continue covering this Felton, Reeves, et al case, and the related cases before SDNY Judge Loretta Preska, in which it appears that a sealed sentencing was held on July 9, at least with the duo of Assistant U.S. Attorneys. Watch this site.

Back on June 19 in the culmination of the one week jury trial of James Felton, accused among other things of killing Marvin Harris on the corner of 175th Street and Monroe Avenue in The Bronx on June 11, 2016, the jury delivered guilty verdicts on all twelve counts.

   Inner City Press asked Felton's defense lawyer if he will work on the sentencing submission. He replied that there is a mandatory minimum life sentence. Still, Judge Pauley III has set the sentencing for October 4.

  After the verdict was read out, guilty after guilty, James Felton looked back at a half dozen people in the gallery throughout the trial, and pointed at his heart. Judge Pauley said to him, It must be a difficult day for you. Then Judge Pauley went to speak with the jurors.

 Earlier on June 19, the jury passed out notes requesting a chart of drug sales, some of the video of the Harris murder, Ezekiel Burley's testimony on the Harris murder, and Facebook postings of defendant James Felton.

  Defense counsel had objected to the indictment being sent in to the jury, and wanted to make a Rule 29 motion. James Felton, smaller than both of his lawyers, glanced around at the Bronxites in the gallery. It was down to the small strokes.

Back on June 18 in the government's summation, Assistant US Attorney Frank J. Balsemello said that James Felton "is a cold blooded murderer." He described how James Felton provided muscle, or gun play, to allow his younger relatives to sell crack in 240 East 175th Street, adding that it was lucrative because it was so near the rehab center PROMESA -- who as Inner City Press long ago reported had its bookkeeper shot and killed on East Tremont Avenue.

  Balsemello's multi-media presentation used audio from prison phone calls ("you have one minute remaining") and pole camera footage of the whole gang dealing drugs to those PROMESA customers. The jury perked up at the complaints of a resident of 240, about having to go to work walking past all these guys - and a lone female, Ginger a/k/a George - dealing crack.

  The argument the government appears to be trying to fight off is that James Felton was somehow defending not only his drug turf but himself, or his son James Diaz a/k/a Chunky. Inner City Press will have more on this.

 On June 17, the fifth day of the trial, proceedings ended with Judge Pauley setting the rules for closing arguments. The government with get an hour and 45 minutes, then a 15 minute reply by Assistant US Attorney Matthew Hellman.

  The defense, which Judge Pauley said pointedly knows it can pace around the room, gets an hour and a half. The docket reflects that until right before trial, Ms Jean Barrett was going to be among James Felton's two lawyers. There's a longer story here, soon to be told.

Earlier on June 17 an NYPD Detective who arrested Felton at 2228 Adams Place testified how Felton's pinging cell phone led them there, and about the gun they found under a duffle bag a closet in Apartment Six David. But the monitors at the defense table, and in the jury box and gallery, did not work.

  Judge Pauley told the jury that back in the old days, lawyers used to hand out photographs of exhibits; the Assistant US Attorney instead held a copy out and walked slowly in front of the jury box while the NYPD detective described putting Felton's two phones back in his pocket for transfer to the 46th Precinct.

 There followed testimony about a number of short phone calls made on 11 December 2016 when Benny White (real name Jose Morales) was shot and killed - for which James Felton's son James Diaz a/k/a Chunky has already pled guilty, albeit requesting a ten year sentence. We'll have more on this.

 In the run-up to the trial James Felton's lawyer Lloyd Epstein told the government and
Judge Pauley that "we're dealing with a neighborhood here where people are talking about people getting killed, that in neighborhoods where some of us live, we might talk about how Johnny was accepted at Yale or, you know, generally is going on to social work school, but here, this is what people talk about."

  But Epstein's point at the final pre-trial conference on 22 February 2019, beyond trashing the Mount Hope neighborhood, was to try to exclude the introduction into evidence of some prison phone calls. He said, "They talk about the cookouts at Rikers Island, they talk about the NBA, they talk about getting sneakers for little kids." Yes, that too. Though it is not what is being heard in the SDNY trial. Watch this site.

 On June 14 cooperating witness Andre Felton described how James Felton told him he had shot Benny White, and how he took the two guns and threw them in a river. When James Felton returned from Massachusetts, Andre Felton let him stay in his apartment in 2228 Adams Place.

  The government put into evidence photographs of that apartment, with vacuum sealed bags for selling marijuana, a heroin spoon and bags, a digital scale and a gun (which Andre Felton showed to James Felton, offering that he could use it.)

  Andre Felton said that alongside selling drugs he was working as a concierge at a building in Manhattan - full time - until in a traffic stop he was found with 10 grams of cocaine....

  Felton's defense team later on June 12 asked Burley if Felton hadn't in fact tried to tell Chunky to reach a deal rather than fight, and hadn't had concerns beyond drug sales.

  This stood at odds with that Felton's lawyer Ms. Jean D. Barrett of Ruhnke & Barrett said at the final pre-trial conference on February 22, 2019, Transcript at 8, that "our understanding is that this is a neighborhood where people sell drugs, and there's a lot of violence in this neighborhood. This is what this neighborhood is like all the time... It's just what the neighborhood is and what everybody in the neighborhood is doing." Really? Inner City Press will continue to cover this case, even without exhibits. See @InnerCityPress and the new @SDNYLIVE.


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