Originally created 09/25/01

Jury selection begins in RICO case



Jury selection began Monday in the racketeering case that inincludes the slayings of Sam's Club Manager David Holt and two young Augusta men whose bodies were found in Warren County.

About 150 people responded to jury summons Monday morning in Richmond County Superior Court, where they stood waiting in the hallway for an hour before they were brought into the courtroom. They are to return in groups today so attorneys can question them individually as to what each might have heard about the case before this week.

Testimony is scheduled to begin Monday. Pleading innocent in the case are Ronald Coleman Jr., 29; Carlston W. Coleman, 30; Laverne Ellis, 29; Kendrick Dudley, 30; Ronnie B. Overton Jr., 22; Jarman L. Harold, 24; and Charles D. Winters, 28.

An eighth suspect, known only by the alias John Lamar Travis, has not been found since the indictment was issued in April.

The indictment accuses each defendant of violating the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization law, alleging that each played various roles in a criminal enterprise during a four-year period.

Only Ronald Coleman and Carlston Coleman, who are not related, are accused of crimes in the June 21, 1998, robbery and abduction of Mr. Holt, 45. Because Mr. Holt was killed - locked in the trunk of burning car - in Aiken, no murder charges have been filed in Augusta .

All of the defendants, except Ms. Ellis, are accused in the RICO indictment of taking part in crimes leading to the July 24, 1997, slayings of Ryan J. Singh, 21, and Manuel B. Arroyo, 19. Their remains were found in a burning car in Warren County, about 35 miles west of Augusta. Each had been shot in the back of the head.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.