DANVILLE — In the early-morning hours before three Danville residents were shot to death in an east-side apartment, an area drug dealer was upset that some of his "dope" had been stolen the day before and threatened to harm someone if it didn't turn up.
D'Juantae Boyd, 32, of Danville, testified in Vermilion County Circuit Court on Friday that he spent the evening of March 24, 2007 driving around town looking for Madisen Leverenz, one of the people suspected of stealing cocaine belonging to Freddell L. Bryant, a "general" in the Black P. Stones Nation gang.
Around 2 a.m. on March 24, 2007, Boyd said he ran into the late Marshall Johnson, Bryant's brother/business partner and the Black P. Stones "chief," and his driver, whom he knew as Tone, at a gas station.
Boyd recalled that Johnson asked if Ms. Leverenz had been found yet. When he answered no, Johnson said, "Somebody better come up with my dope, or there's going to be some bodies found."
Boyd also testified that sometime the following year, he was in a Vermilion County Jail holding cell when another inmate walked by and introduced himself as Jerome Harris. Harris then said to him, "good looking."
"I thought he was talking about the murder case," Boyd said when Assistant State's Attorney Chuck Mockbee asked him what he thought Harris meant. "Good job, thank you ... for not talking about it to anyone."
Boyd was one of several prosecution witnesses who testified on the fourth day of Harris' jury trial. The trial continues on Monday.
Harris, 29, of Danville, faces 15 counts of first-degree murder in the March 25, 2007 deaths of Ms. Leverenz, 19; Ta'Breyon "TuTu" McCullough, 21; and Rodney "Face" Pepper, 30.
In December 2012, Bryant, also known as "Freddy Moe," of Chicago, was convicted in U.S. District Court in Urbana of three counts of using a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime and causing the death of all three victims. He is serving three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole in a federal prison in Florida.
Prosecutors said a witness identified Harris as leaving the crime scene and that he admitted his involvement in the murders to other people with whom he was locked up in jail or prison.
But Public Defender Jacqueline Lacy, Harris' attorney, contends that Bryant, Johnson and Tony "Tone" Dickenson committed the murders, and that her client was doing a cocaine deal at the time.
Harris is serving 25 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on multiple drug convictions. If convicted of the murders, he could receive a mandatory life sentence.
Boyd testified that he knew Ms. McCullough most of his life and that she was Bryant's girlfriend.
He said on March 24, he, Ms. McCullough, her sister Teonna Derrickson and another woman drove to Indianapolis to buy Ecstasy. He said Ms. Leverenz was supposed to go but didn't.
When they returned to McCullough's mother's home, McCullough went inside, Boyd recalled. When she came back out, she was "hysterical" because someone had broken in and stolen drugs from her room.
On Thursday, Derrickson testified that on the Friday before the murders, she, her sister and Ms. Leverenz were at their mother's home when Bryant pulled his car into the garage and handed his sister a duffle bag containing cocaine. She said her sister took the bag and hid it in her bedroom closet.
During his testimony, Boyd said Ms. McCullough called Bryant and told him about the break-in, then Bryant called him.
"He was trying to feel me out if I knew anything," he said, adding he picked up his wife from work and took her home. Then he picked up Derrickson, and the two spent the evening looking for Ms. Leverenz.
After the encounter with Johnson, Boyd said he was going to go home, but got a call from Ms. McCullough asking him to continue looking for Ms. Leverenz. That's when he and another woman, Shanne Miles, drove by the East Main Street apartment, one of the places they thought she might be, and saw a light on.
Boyd said he asked Miles to knock on the door while he waited in the car. When he heard Ms. Leverenz' voice at the door of the apartment, he told Ms. McCullough, who he had on the phone.
When he was talking to her, Boyd said he could hear other voices in the background, including Bryant's.