Originally created 10/17/01

RICO case turns to testimony gaps



Defense attorneys hammered Tuesday at inconsistencies and gaps in what investigators know or deduce happened to two Augusta men shot to death in July 1997.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Steve Foster was the only witness to testify Tuesday in Richmond County Superior Court in the massive racketeering trial against six men.

Ronald Coleman Jr., 29; Carlston W. Coleman, 30; Kendric Dudley, 30; Ronnie B. Overton Jr., 22; Charles D. Winters, 29; and Jarman L. Harold, 25, have each pleaded innocent to charges of violating the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

One of the elements of the RICO charge is what happened to Manuel B. Arroyo, 19, and Ryan J. Singh, 21, before their bodies were found in the trunk of a burned car in Warren County on July 24, 1997. Each was killed by a .357-caliber bullet to the head.

On Tuesday, Mr. Overton's attorney, Martin Puetz, focused questions on the only witness who connected his client, and Mr. Dudley, to the killings - Antonio Tillery. Agent Foster interviewed Mr. Tillery in April 1998 after his arrest in two Virginia bank robberies.

Mr. Tillery gave the agent details of the killings, including the possibility that the weapon was a Colt King Cobra, a .357-caliber revolver, which a firearms expert testified this month was probably the type of weapon used to kill Mr. Arroyo and Mr. Singh.

Agent Foster said he never asked what kind of guns Mr. Tillery and his brother used to rob the Virginia banks, although the weapon used in the Warren County double homicide has never been found. "That .357 could be anywhere right now," Agent Foster said.

Another witness has testified that Ronald Coleman told him he was involved in the double homicide and needed to clean blood from his car. However, intensive searching and testing revealed not a trace of blood, the agent said.

Prosecutors still have to present evidence about a number of crimes, including the June 21, 1998, abduction of Sam's Club Manager David Holt, 45. Mr. Holt's body was found in the trunk of his burning car in Aiken County

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