Originally created 10/06/01

Officer outlines slayings



With the courtroom lights dimmed, a photograph came into focus to reveal an idyllic, wood-lined country road where two young Augusta men allegedly were executed.

On Friday in Richmond County Superior Court, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent David Leonard explained what jurors were seeing, a series of photographs he took July 24, 1997, the day volunteer firefighters discovered the charred remains of Manuel B. Arroyo, 19, and Ryan J. Singh, 21, in the trunk of a stolen car.

Agent Leonard's photographs showed jurors the burned-out car discovered about 140 feet off Otis Jones Road in Warren County; blood on the dirt road found about half a mile from the car; and the contents of the trunk.

Earlier this week, a medical examiner told jurors that Mr. Arroyo and Mr. Singh were killed from gunshots to the backs of their heads before their bodies were burned.

Agent Leonard, a veteran arson investigator, testified there was no doubt the fire that destroyed the car was arson.

After five days of prosecution testimony, no witness has put any of the six defendants at the scene of killings. What happened to Mr. Arroyo and Mr. Singh in Augusta before they were found dead in Warren County is part of a massive racketeering case against Ronald Coleman Jr., 29; Carlston W. Coleman, 30; Kendric Dudley, 30; Ronnie B. Overton Jr., 22; Charles D. Winters, 28; and Jarman L. Harold, 24.

Each of the men has pleaded innocent to the charge of violating the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law. In addition, the two Mr. Colemans, who are not related, have pleaded innocent to charges of kidnapping, armed robbery, hijacking a motor vehicle, burglary and weapons charges in the June 21, 1998, abduction of Sam's Club Manager David Holt, 45.

"I think it's clear what happened; we're trying to find out who caused this to happen," Carlston Coleman's attorney, Michael Mann, said Friday.

Mr. Mann asked Agent Leonard whether any physical evidence that officers recovered at the Otis Jones Road crime scene has been linked to his client or any of the other defendants. The agent said it has not.

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