Last Friday, an Ulster County grand jury handed up indictments against five men and two women for King’s murder. The seven accused — Trevor “Little T” Mattis, Gary “G Money” Griffin, Jermaine “Maino” Nicholas, Jarrin “Phat Boy” Rankin, Rondy “Ski” Russ, Amanda “Blazer Bitch” Miller and Damitria “Meatie” Kelley — conspired to kill King because they believed he had cooperated with a police investigation into a November shootout on Henry Street which led to Rankin’s arrest on felony assault and weapons charges. The accused, according to police, are members or associates of “Sex Money Murder,” a notorious street gang with roots in the Bronx and strong ties to Kingston.
King died after he was shot in the head and left arm on Cedar Street on the evening of Feb. 9. According to family members, King had been staying with an uncle on Henry Street while on a visit from Lake George where he was living with a girlfriend and trying to get together enough money to leave New York. Police said that Mattis, who is Rankin’s brother, used a medium-caliber handgun supplied by Griffin to shoot King.
The killing, according to Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright, was the culmination of a conspiracy, organized by Rankin from the Ulster County Jail to eliminate King as a witness in the assault case against him. Carnright said members of the gang hunted King over a period of time, even traveling to Lake George to find him. King’s family said that he had testified before a grand jury about the November shooting. According to family members, King agreed to testify in exchange for help avoiding a state prison sentence on a pending burglary charge.
Set up for execution
On Feb. 9, Carnright said, the gang members knew their target was back in town. When Nicholas spotted King, he contacted Mattis and, in Carnright’s words “detained” King until Mattis showed up.
“This was an ongoing deal, it didn’t just happen overnight,” said Carnright. Carnright did not elaborate on the role played by Russ, Miller and Kelley i n the slaying, except to say that they were “involved in the conspiracy, looking to find King and set him up for execution.”
According to King’s uncle, David Stokes, who said he learned details of the killing from witnesses, two women in a car approached his nephew as he walked to the Cedar Street Deli to buy cigarettes around 6:45 p.m. on Feb 9. The women tried to get King to take a ride with them, but he refused to get into the car, Stokes said. A short time later, Stokes said, a man approached King as he was walking out of the deli, said he needed to speak to him and led him up the street where Mattis was waiting. With the exception of Russ and Rankin, all of the accused were arrested and charged within a few days of the murder following a ’round-the-clock investigation by Kingston police, the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team and other law enforcement agencies.
Carnright called King’s murder an unprecedented, at least for Ulster County, assault on the criminal justice system. “By carrying out this slaying, the gang is making the statement that they are above the law,” said Carnright.
Carnright described the accused as hardcore members of the Sex Money Murder street gang. The gang was founded as part of the United Bloods Nation at New York City’s Riker’s Island detention center in 1993. The SMM set grew from its original home base in the Soundview section of the Bronx into a loosely affiliated network with chapters all along the East Coast. The gang’s connection to Kingston dates back to the mid 1990s, when SMM founder Peter “Pistol Pete” Rollack was arrested on drug charges in the city (Rollack is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison for murder and racketeering). Carnright said that those responsible for King’s murder were full-fledged SMM members with gang connections beyond Kingston, not self-styled gangster wannabes.
Several of those accused in the assassination plot have previous criminal records. Mattis, 22, was released from state prison just three weeks before the murder after serving time for robbery and assault. In 2008-09 Rankin, 19, served eight months in state prison for robbery and drug possession. Russ, 23, served a stint in state prison for a series of violent street robberies in Saugerties back in 2004.
All seven suspects have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder. In addition:
Mattis and Griffin are charged with first degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon;
Mattis, Griffin and Nicholas are charged with intimidating a victim or witness and tampering with a witness; and
Griffin, Nicholas, Miller and Kelley are charged with criminal facilitation.