Biggest street gang trial in recent Chicago history begins

  • This undated photo in a court filing provided by the United States Attorney's office in Chicago, shows Paris Poe's back tattoo that reads "The Earth Is Our Turf", and Hobo. Poe is one of six defendants on trial for racketeering and other charges are purported leaders of the widely feared Hobos, a South Side gang that federal prosecutors said murdered, maimed and tortured their way into control of some of Chicago's most lucrative drug markets. Their federal trial begins Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016 with opening statements in Chicago. (United States Attorney's office in Chicago via AP)

  • This undated photo provided by the Violent Crimes Task Force, Chicago Division, shows Paris Poe. Poe is one of six defendants on trial for racketeering and other charges are purported leaders of the widely feared Hobos, a South Side gang that federal prosecutors said murdered, maimed and tortured their way into control of some of Chicago's most lucrative drug markets. Their federal trial begins Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016 with opening statements in Chicago. (Violent Crimes Task Force, Chicago Division via AP)

  • This undated photo in a court filing provided by the United States Attorney's office in Chicago, shows Paris Poe's arm tattoo with the misspelled rank of "Cheif Hobo." Poe is one of six defendants on trial for racketeering and other charges are purported leaders of the widely feared Hobos, a South Side gang that federal prosecutors said murdered, maimed and tortured their way into control of some of Chicago's most lucrative drug markets. Their federal trial begins Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, with opening statements in Chicago. (United States Attorney's office in Chicago via AP)

  • This undated wanted poster provided by the Violent Crimes Task Force, Chicago Division, shows photos of Paris Poe. Poe is one of six defendants on trial for racketeering and other charges are purported leaders of the widely feared Hobos, a South Side gang that federal prosecutors said murdered, maimed and tortured their way into control of some of Chicago's most lucrative drug markets. Their federal trial begins Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016 with opening statements in Chicago. (Violent Crimes Task Force, Chicago Division via AP)

Associated Press
Published: 9/14/2016 9:31:39 PM

Six purported leaders of the Hobos street gang went on trial Wednesday in a case that is expected to provide a rare look inside the criminal activity fueling gun violence in the nation’s third-largest city.

Prosecutors say the defendants murdered, maimed and tortured their way into controlling the most lucrative drug markets on Chicago’s South Side. The trial is the biggest of its kind in recent city history, and testimony is expected to last for months.

Federal prosecutor Patrick Otlewski told jurors that the six men charged with racketeering are “an all-star team of the worst of the worst” who “terrorized the city.”

“You will look into the eyes of murderers . . . every day,” he said in opening statements.

The attorney for alleged Hobos boss Gregory Chester told jurors that his client struggled against all odds to survive in what he called the “caldron where these men grew up without opportunities.”

“This case is about that place,” Beau Brindley said. He acknowledged that Chester sold drugs to acquaintances but said he had nothing to do with running a gang.

He also told jurors that police were frustrated that they could not get Chester to cooperate that they fabricated evidence suggesting he was a Hobos leader.

“At the center of this case is police lies,” Brindley said.

Among the defendants is alleged Hobos hit man Paris Poe, who prosecutors say killed a government witness in 2013, shooting the man 25 times at close range while his horrified stepchildren, ages 4 and 6 at the time, screamed in the back seat of a car. The 4-year-old later told investigators the “Boogie Man” had attacked them, according to court filings.

As the prosecutor described the witness’ death to jurors, he walked toward Poe sitting behind a defense table, raising his voice.

“Who would do such a thing?” he asked and then pointed at Poe. “That man is in this courtroom . . . in that blue shirt – a cold-blooded murderer.”

He said the men’s motives fell into three categories: killing to boost their status and territory, killing over drugs and killing to eliminate those cooperating with law enforcement.

The prosecutor displayed photographs from crime scenes, including of two Hobos rivals slumped over dead in their SUV after Hobos members allegedly sprayed it with gunfire in a drive-by attack.

Prosecutors will seek to prove that the defendants’ criminal conspiracy involved at least nine murders.




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