Lawyers in Latin Kings case wrestle with mountains of evidence

Four North Carolina Latin Kings, including inca Jorge Cornell, pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering charges in federal court in Greensboro this morning. The government filed a superceding indictment including a handful of new overt acts and added a 14th defendant last month.

Cornell, Russell Kilfoil, Randolph Kilfoil and Samuel Velasquez entered the courtroom wearing prison scrubs with hands cuffed to waist chains and smiling at supporters.

Judge William Osteen decided against setting deadlines for motions after hearing from both the government and defense council that the complexity of the case and volume of documentation was likely to require considerable time for preparation. Instead the judge scheduled a status conference for the first week of April.

Assistant US Attorney AJ Lang said the government has provided the defendants with 200 hours of audio and video recordings and 6,000 pages of documentation in discovery. The government is still in the process of having the audio recordings transcribed.

“I don’t see how we could resolve this case in April,” Lang said. “It’s a voluminous case.”

Mark Everette Edwards, the public defender assigned to Velasquez he had difficulty discerning who was speaking in the audio recordings and they did not match up to other documentation provided to the government.

“It’s just going to take a long time to plow through,” he said.

The defense lawyers, some of whom have capital cases scheduled for trial in the interim, said it could be late summer or early fall before they are prepared to go to trial in the Latin Kings case.

Many of the defendants are being held at Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Va., a five-hour drive for their lawyers.

“When I get up there, I’m told, ‘Oh, you can’t bring your computer in,’” said Brian Michael, who represents Russell Kilfoil. “They say they have a computer in the facility we can use. But I find out it doesn’t even have something as simple as Adobe Acrobat. So I can’t go over the case with my client. It makes it difficult to prepare for trial.”

As Cornell was led out with the other four defendants, supporter Saralee Gallien told him from the gallery: “We love you and miss you. Your girls love you and miss you.”

“Are you at Farmville?” she added. “Put us on the list.”

Outside the courthouse, a handful of supporters dressed in the Latin Kings’ colors of gold and black held banners reading “FBI conspires, kings and queens inspire” and “From Pelican Bay to Greensboro, in solidarity with all prisoners.”

Two of them declined to give their names, but indicated they were from different parts of North Carolina.

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