ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Graphic testimony in an Albany courtroom gave us insight into the secret and sometimes deadly world of gang initiations.
An Albany man was beaten to death in June in what police say was an initiation into one of the area's most dangerous gangs.
Two members of the Black Gangsta Disciples heard evidence against them in that murder case.
The hearing was cut short and continued because one of the subpoenaed Police Investigators did not show up. But the lead Investigator in the case did testify about the night that Black Gangsta Disciples viciously beat two men. One died, and now seven gang members are charged with murder.
22 year old Orlando "O" Charlot Junior smirks and shakes his head no as charges that 32 year old Reginald Richardson's ribs were broken during the gang initiation beating were read in court.
26 year old Yaaeil "Yaa" Shelton strains against his handcuffs to read court papers also charging him with murder and gang participation.
Lead Investigator Corporal Arthur Tyler testified several gang members told Police 10 to 12 people were involved in the beating, including Shelton and Charlot, and they had to sort through gang nicknames to identify the people involved.
District Attorney Greg Edwards said "Secrecy is part of what they are all about. And that's usually one of the things that law enforcement has to kind of get through."
Police say the 6-foot-3, 240 pound Richardson, a former Autry State Prison guard, went to the South Street home of BGD gang leader Greg Marshall and David Freeman the night of June 21st, along with 28 year old Antonio Crapps, who was also being initiated into the gang. They drove several cars to Shelton's trailer on Mobile Avenue, and then walked to the Sand Dunes about 11:30 that night.
Police say the nearly dozen Black Gangsta Disciples were supposed to hit and kick the men for six minutes. They were not supposed to strike them in the head or face. But after the beating Richardson had to be helped back to Shelton's trailer, where they gave him water. About 3 that morning Crapps and Chanel King took Richardson's body to Phoebe Putney Hospital, but he was already dead.
The autopsy said Richardson died of blunt force trauma, but the Investigator could not say what Richardson was hit with or when he died. Seven men have been charged as gang members with the murder. The D. A. described this case as very important in the battle against Albany gangs.
Edwards said "Gangs only lead to death, jail, or other misfortune."
Charlot, Shelton and the other 5 men charged with murder remain in the Dougherty County jail,and Police say they continue to search for more gang members involved in the beating death.
Even though we had a signed order allowing our camera inside the courtroom for the hearing, Judge Baxter Howell kicked our camera out before testimony began. He said the details were too graphic to put on television. No date has been set for the continuation of the hearing.
Police say their Investigation continues. If you have any information about Reginald Richardson's death they want you to call CRIME STOPPERS at 436-TIPS.