On June 6, Jarrin “Phat Boy” Rankin, 21, is scheduled to go on trial for conspiracy and weapons possession in a case that could send him to prison for 25 years. Authorities say Rankin, from behind the walls of the Ulster County Jail, conspired with his brother Trevor “Little T” Mattis and other members of the Sex Money Murder Bloods gang to murder King to prevent him from testifying about a November 2009 shootout on Henry Street in which Rankin allegedly shot a gun-toting rival in the face.
Rankin, or at least his voice as recorded by the jail’s phone monitoring system, was a key witness for the prosecution in the first-degree murder trial of Mattis, who shot King in the back of the head on Cedar Street on Feb. 9, 2010, and Gary “G-Money” Griffin, who provided Mattis the gun and directed getaway and disposal of the murder weapon. Both men were convicted and sentenced to life without parole in state prison.
During the trial of Griffin and Mattis, District Attorney Holley Carnright used the calls from Rankin to then-girlfriend, now prosecution witness Dametria “Meaty” Kelley and other gang associates to trace the evolution of the conspiracy between late 2009, when authorities say Rankin was actively seeking the identity of the witness who identified him as the gunman in the Henry Street shooting, and the night of King’s murder, when he allegedly called getaway driver and gang associate Amanda “Blazer Bitch” Miller to warn her that police had identified her car and would likely be calling on her soon.
District Attorney Holley Carnright declined to name potential witnesses in the upcoming trial, but said that Rankin’s trial would rely on many of the same facts, exhibits and witnesses used to convict Mattis and Griffin.
“The conspiracy case will in large part, track the previous trial,” said Carnright. “We anticipate many of the same witnesses will testify.”
Along with the conspiracy charge, assistant district attorneys Kevin Harp and Dylan Gallagher will seek a conviction on a weapons possession charge based on the Nov. 19, 2009 shootout which, police believe, led to King’s murder a few months later.
According to police, the gunplay erupted after Curtis “Black” Williams confronted Rankin and other Sex Money Murder Bloods as they stood on the porch of 34 Henry St. Authorities believe that Williams was angry that the gang members had threatened his teenage son. Police say Williams fired a sawed -ff shotgun over the heads of the gang members and Rankin returned fire with a small-caliber pistol, hitting Williams in the face.
Williams survived and, in February, was acquitted on charges of criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment following a jury trial. The only eyewitness at Williams’ trial, a self-proclaimed cocaine dealer who took the stand in exchange for leniency on other criminal charges, testified that he saw Williams walking up Henry Street with the shotgun, but left the scene before the gunfire erupted.
Rankin, meanwhile, was arrested in Poughkeepsie two days after the shooting, apparently based on King’s identification of him as the gunman. King had been hanging out with the group, which included his half-brother and alleged gang member Lee “Justice” Gray. (Police do not believe King was a member of the gang). King would later testify about the shooting to an Ulster County grand jury, leading to Mattis’ indictment on assault and weapons charges. Family members say the 21-year-old King cooperated with police to win leniency on a pending burglary charge. After testifying before the grand jury, King left Kingston and moved to Lake George. Family members say that he feared retaliation from the gang and was only in Kingston for a short visit when he was shot on Feb. 9.
In an unusual twist, Rankin may go to trial with two attorneys, one for each of the charges. New York City-based defense lawyer William Alfords had represented Rankin on the weapons charges prior to Rankin’s indictment in the conspiracy case. Newburgh-based attorney Paul Tracte, meanwhile, has been appointed to serve as Rankin’s counsel on the conspiracy charge. Carnright said that his office had asked County Judge Don Williams to merge the two cases into a single trial, with each attorney maintaining their original role in Rankin’s defense.
“No one here, including Judge Williams, has had this kind of situation where you have two attorneys for one defendant,” said Carnright. “I’m not sure how His Honor is going to handle this.”
In addition to Rankin, three more alleged members of the conspiracy to kill King face final disposition of their cases. Police say Jermain “Maino” Nicholas spotted King at the Cedar Street Deli and detained him until Mattis and Griffin arrived on the scene. Rondy “Ski” Russ is also charged with conspiracy for allegedly threatening King’s father with a boxcutter in January 2010. Miller, who drove the getaway car and relayed messages for the gang, still faces conspiracy and criminal facilitation charges. But the 19-year-old gang associate made a deal with Carnright. In exchange for her testimony against Mattis, Griffin and other conspirators, Carnright promised not to pursue any charges which could earn her a term in state prison. Miller remains in the Ulster County Jail where she has been incarcerated since Feb. 10, 2010, the day after the murder. Kelley, who relayed messages from the jailed Rankin to other gang members and was present in the getaway car the night of the murder, received a promise from Carnright to drop all charges in the matter in exchange for her testimony. She is the only alleged conspirator not currently incarcerated in the county jail or state prison.