Defense to present case in drug gang cousins trial - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Defense to present case in drug gang cousins trial

(WMC-TV) - The defense attorneys for two cousins accused of being contract killers are preparing their case after the prosecution rested its case.

Senior Reporter Bill Dries with the Memphis Daily News has been tied up daily inside the federal courthouse while covering the murder trial of cousins Clinton and Martin Lewis.

"I started covering it four years ago," said Dries.  "These two decided to take their chances with a jury, and as a result, we know a lot more about the organization."

The Lewis cousins are accused of being hitmen for Craig Petties' international drug ring.  The state's case lasted four weeks.

Petties did not testify, and Dries said he is not surprised.

"While there was certainly a lot of proof about him ordering the murders in this case, he wasn't in Memphis when they took place," said Dries.

As the defense prepares to present its case, Dries said they may have an uphill battle.

"The prosecution certainly had a mountain of evidence," said Dries.  "The jury heard in very broad terms about just how big this conspiracy was.  They also heard about the specific details of these murders, and the prosecution ended its case by putting a lot of cocaine on the table for the jury to see just what this was about."

Regardless of the outcome, Dries said this trial has been telling.

"This is our community, whether we like it or not," he said.  "This is something that was born here.  This is something that is probably still going on here, maybe not to the degree that we saw with the violence that's been talked about at this trial, but it's a fact of life here."

Court was not in session Friday.  When it resumes at 9:30 a.m. Friday, the defense will begin presenting its case.

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