Originally created 10/10/01

Men testify against defendants



Virgil Rogers made it clear Tuesday he did not want to be in court testifying against longtime friends, but he told the jury in a massive racketeering case that Ronald Coleman Jr. told him about a homicide in July 1997.

"He said they had got back at those guys," Mr. Rogers testified. "(He said) they were dead ... He said they didn't know there was that much blood in a body."

"I've known this man (Mr. Coleman) for 20 years" and had been best friends with co-defendant Kendric Dudley, Mr. Rogers testified Tuesday in Richmond County Superior Court. "I don't want to be here at all."

Tuesday was the sixth day of testimony in the trial of Mr. Coleman, 29; Mr. Dudley, 30; Carlston W. Coleman, 30; Ronnie B. Overton Jr., 22; Charles D. Winters, 28; and Jarman L. Harold, 24. Each man has pleaded not guilty to the charge of violating the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law.

Ronald Coleman and Carlston Coleman, who are not related, are the only defendants accused of crimes in the June 21, 1998, abduction of Sam's Club Manager David Holt, 45, whose body was discovered in a burning car in Aiken County.

Part of the RICO charge concerns what allegedly happened to 19-year-old Manuel B. Arroyo and 21-year-old Ryan J. Singh before their bodies were discovered in the trunk of a burnt car in Warren County on July 24, 1997.

Mr. Rogers testified he first heard the news about the deaths of Mr. Arroyo and Mr. Singh from media accounts before Mr. Coleman told him that he and Mr. Winters were robbed in Atlanta, that Mr. Coleman believed a man known as "B" had set them up and that they extracted their revenge.

Mr. Rogers testified under cross-examination that Ronald Coleman was known to boast and exaggerate.

The jury also heard Tuesday from Antonio Tillery, who provided information to investigators in Georgia after his 1998 arrest for armed robbery in Virginia.

Mr. Tillery's answer to most questions was, "I can't recall," and only once during his testimony did he look up from the floor of the witness stand.

Prodded by prosecutors fortified with hisprevious statement and grand jury testimony, Mr. Tillery told the jury he was at Carlston Coleman's home when Mr. Overton, Mr. Dudley, Mr. Winters, a man named "Ron" and a man named "Squeaky" were talking about how Ron and Mr. Winters had been robbed in Atlanta.

The next day, Mr. Tillery testified, Mr. Overton told him that they had found the two men, beat them up and then killed them. Mr. Overton told him, Mr. Tillery testified, that the victims had been shot in the trunk of a stolen car that Mr. Harold had obtained.

Mr. Tillery faces cross-examination today in Richmond County Superior Court.

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