Thursday, September 21, 2006
Will The Regime Murder Cory Maye?
Courtesy of the indefatigable (and Pulitzer-worthy) Radney Balko comes a useful glimpse into the inner life of a footsolider in the War on Drugs.
Before sharing the insights of this public-minded paladin of justice, it's necessary to sketch a brief portrait of that pillar of rectitude, and describe the role he played in an incident five years ago that has cost one man his life, and may eventually take the life of another.
Prentiss, Mississippi resident Randy Gentry is described by Balko as “a 51-year-old guy with white hair pulled back into a ponytail [and] a long, white beard....” He also wears glasses, but not for reading, because he's illiterate, which is a tragedy.
There are many decent and generous people from the Deep South who meet that description. Gentry is not among them. He appears to be a professional parasite, a drug user who occasionally works as a “confidential informant” when the local branch of the Leviathan State's police apparatus wants to conduct a no-knock drug raid. Gentry has performed that service on many occasions.
Gentry was the informant whose anonymous tip led to a December 26, 2001 paramilitary raid on a duplex in Prentiss during which officer Ron Jones, the son of the local Police Chief, was killed by then-21-year-old Cory Maye in a case of double mistaken identity. The officers had gotten the wrong address, and illegally raided Maye's side of the duplex. Maye, seeing his home invaded by eleven unidentified armed men wearing black, got his gun and shot one of the intruders.
As I have written before,under the constitution and laws of Mississippi, as well as applicable judicial precedents, Maye is guilty of no crime, let alone capital murder. Yet in 2004 Maye was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to die by lethal injection.
Prior to December 2001, Maye had no criminal record. His first unpleasant encounter with the police came when they illegally invaded his home. He had no criminal record. His reaction is more or less what one would expect from any citizen with a sleeping 18-month-old girl (my youngest daughter is about that age) who awoke to find the sanctity of his home violated by a pack of armed thugs.
Maye's case has attracted nowhere near the amount of publicity one would expect (given that it's practically a John Grisham novel brought to life). A new defense team has come to his aid and is petitioning Circuit Judge Michael Eubanks for a new trial.
Gentry testified on Tuesday that he had bought drugs from Jamie Smith, who had been Maye's next-door neighbor, on two occasions. According to a Clarion Ledger account of the hearing, Gentry claims that “Smith told him he got the drugs from Maye,” and on the second occasion, “Smith left to get the drugs from Maye.... Earlier today, Gentry testified that he bought two rocks of cocaine from Smith and said he saw Smith go into Maye's house. He said he saw the drug transaction between the two through a thin window curtain in Maye's house. But he acknowledged it wasn't `as plain as day.'”
Smith, who was the target of the warrant, was charged in the drug raid “but never prosecuted,” notes the Clarion Ledger. “He skipped bail and has never been found.”
Unless we (or at least some jurisdictions in Mississippi) are already operating under Gitmo-ized rules of evidence, Gentry's testimony should have been laughed out of court, since it is predicated on hearsay – that is, the only connection between his dealer, Smith, and Maye is what Gentry says that Smith told him.
Furthermore, Gentry's own brother Sherman (good grief, what self-respecting Southerner would have a “Sherman” as a given name?) has impeached the testimony, “saying there was only one drug purchase and that he drove Randy Gentry to the duplex to make it. He also said his brother left the duplex with a young man who looked about 16 or 17 and was not Maye.”
Most damaging of all to Randy Gentry's credibility is his admission that he had left an incredibly foul and bigoted message on the answering machine of Bob Evans, Maye's defense attorney, after being told that he would be compelled to testify in court.
With the local affiliate of the Leviathan state unwilling to cooperate, Evans tracked down Gentry using a private investigator. The informant was willing to meet with the investigator until he learned that the PI worked for Maye's defense team. He promptly shut up and refused to meet with Evans, who called to tell the informant that if he didn't cooperate voluntarily, he would be forced to through a subpoena.
By way of reply, Gentry – who had “turned himself in” to the Sheriff, rather than cooperate with Maye's defense team – left the following message, which glistens with the subtle, ironic wit we would expect from someone who works as a part-time collaborator with the Regime (I have sanitized it somewhat for your protection):
“Yeah, this is Mr. Randy Gentry. Hey, I got to thinkin' about my friend. I got yo' message this morning, Bob. Y'all -- y'all threaten me all you want to and everything. I don't like f**kin' ni**ers from jump street but call me or whatever and I'll -- but the day I burn five cents on gas to help that f**kin' c**sucker Cory Maye get out of jail is going to be a hell of a damn day. But -- uh -- if you want to talk to me like a f**kin' white man, you talk. But don't threaten me on bullsh**t. Get your NAACP mother***kers -- I don't give a f**k -- ni**ers, bro, f**k ni**ers! But I'll tell you what. That's a good friend of mine they killed, buddy. I'll -- I'll tell you anything. I'll -- I'll be honest with you as f**kin' gum (?) street. But I don't like no motherf**ker talkin' s**t to me or about my friends. Alright, well look here. Call me today and look here. Y'all buy my f**kin' gas, the NAACP buy my f**kin' gas I'll come talk to y'all or whatever. But look here. I'm -- I'm a poor-a** motherf**r too, bro. Call me. You got my f**kin' number. Don't piss me f**kin' off.”
This is a core sample of what passes for the soul of the individual on whose word the State's killing machinery was set in motion, resulting in the death of one young man, and the likely death of a second.
This is the kind of individual – the word “man” may have once applied, but it manifestly doesn't at present – without whom the War on Drugs couldn't proceed: A petty criminal apparently joined at the hip with law enforcement (he refers to Officer Jones as “a good friend of mine” and apparently regards the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force – the federally funded regional agency that conducted the lethal raid – as “my friends” about whom he will countenance no “sh*t”-talking.
Sherman was a trusted and valuable collaborator until he became a source of controversy; now the prosecution is trying to discredit its key witness, even as it insists that the raid, and subsequent prosecution of Maye, were entirely righteous.
This is rather like the way that the Bush regime relied on “intelligence” from the likes of Ahmed Chalabi to justify the invasion of Iraq, and then turned on Chalabi once he was exposed as a crook and a fraud – while insisting, simultaneously, that the war was a good and worthy undertaking and that there really is no point in “re-litigating” the whole issue.
The nature and operations of the regime remain consistent, from the Oval Office down to its tiniest and most obscure local affiliates (Prentiss, Mississippi has a population of about 1,200).
It used to be said that federal intervention was necessary because tiny communities like Prentiss with stagnant puddles of congealed prejudice. Yet in the case of Cory Maye, an innocent young black man (whether he is a saint or sinner, the only “crime” of which he's been convicted was an act that meets the legal definition of justifiable homicide) is likely to die because of a combination of racial bigotry and local corruption that were catalyzed through federal intervention.
[Note: Please ignore the badly mangled version of this essay appearing below.]
at 1:13 PM