Telly Hankton and Walter Porter found guilty
John Simerman of The New Orleans Advocate reports the murderous saga of Central City drug boss Telly Hankton and his lethal admirers culminated Tuesday in a New Orleans federal courtroom, where a jury returned guilty verdicts on 28 of 35 charges in the racketeering case against Hankton, Uptown hit man Walter Porter and Hankton cousins Andre Hankton and Kevin Jackson.
Among other crimes, Telly Hankton and Porter each were convicted on three counts of murder in aid of racketeering, a charge that carries a life prison term (Advocate).
Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued a statement Tuesday night saying that “justice has been served as murderer and notorious gangster Telly Hankton has been convicted by a jury of his peers.” Landrieu said “Hankton and his co-defendants terrorized our streets for years” and “epitomized the culture of violence in our city” (Advocate).
All told, Hankton, 40, was convicted on nine of the 11 counts he faced. The jury acquitted him on a pair of counts related to a gun attack in October 2010, while Hankton was behind bars, on an innocent witness to one of those murders (Advocate).
The jury convicted Porter on all 14 counts he faced. He lashed out at the verdicts, suggesting the feds tainted the trial through extensive news coverage of the Hankton prosecution (Advocate).
“All that stuff you put out there poisoned the well of the jury,” Porter said, howling that he was “railroaded” as the jury of eight women and four men exited the courtroom.
The jurors reached their unanimous verdicts about 2 p.m. on the third day of deliberations in a trial that began June 6 (Advocate).
Prosecutors portrayed Telly Hankton throughout as the vengeful enforcer of a cocaine-dealing monopoly centered around his family’s Josephine Street stronghold (Advocate).
Hankton’s drug-dealing ways dated back some two decades, according to a 24-count federal indictment first handed up in 2012. The indictment named Hankton and his family members or associates in five murders allegedly committed in defense of their business (Advocate).
Most of the 13 original defendants are Hankton family members. Nine of the defendants, including Telly Hankton’s mother, Shirley, pleaded guilty before the trial, though none agreed to testify in the case (Advocate).
Telly Hankton, 40, already is serving a life prison sentence from a 2011 state murder conviction for one of the same killings for which he was found guilty Tuesday. That was the May 2008 slaying of Darnell “Durney” Stewart, a neighbor and Hankton drug rival who was run down, then gunned down under the streetlights of South Claiborne Avenue (Advocate).
The jury also found Hankton guilty in the March 2006 killing of another rival, Darvin Bessie, and the June 2009 slaying of Jessie “TuTu” Reed in a barrage of 50 bullets from five guns on Terpsichore Street (Advocate).
All three murder victims had joined in challenging Hankton’s exclusive drug turf, prosecutors said, in a feud that dated to the early 2000s. The bloodshed and subsequent killings began with the December 2007 slaying, allegedly by Stewart and Reed, of a beloved older cousin, George “Cup” Hankton, who is Andre Hankton’s brother (Advocate).
Among the shooting victims were witnesses to Reed’s murders; John Matthews, a daiquiri shop owner who survived at least 17 gunshots to testify against Hankton in state court concerning Stewart’s killing; and John Matthews’ brother, Curtis Matthews, who was gunned down a few days after a state judge sentenced Telly Hankton to life in prison (Advocate).
Porter committed that murder, the jury found.
Prosecutors also accused members of the clan of paying for a false alibi that two women lent Hankton at his first state trial in Stewart’s killing, which ended with a deadlocked jury. Another jury convicted him in a retrial (Advocate).
Citing his allegedly bloody scorn for the criminal justice system, city leaders have more than once labeled Telly Hankton as one of the city’s most dangerous criminals.
Meanwhile, witnesses described Porter as a hit man who eagerly solicited business from the Hanktons, joined in Reed’s killing and then bragged loudly about it. Porter, 40, awaited a life sentence even before Tuesday’s verdict, having been convicted in March but not yet sentenced for an unrelated $20,000 contract killing in Gretna (Advocate).
The jury Tuesday convicted Porter on three counts of murder in aid of racketeering, for Reed’s killing; the slaying two weeks later of a witness to Reed’s murder, Hasan
“Hockie” Williams; and the death of Curtis Matthews (Advocate).
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