‘Jack Boys’ on trial for month-long crime spree

Alleged members of the so-called “Jack Boys” gang – blamed for a violent, murderous criminal rampage through east Atlanta neighborhoods in the fall of 2010 – had their day in court Wednesday as a Fulton County jury heard opening statements.

But it seemed that all fingers, from the prosecution to the attorneys for two of the defendants on trial, pointed at supposed 19-year-old ring leader.

“Tamario Wise is a stone cold, wildcat killer,” said David White, the attorney for Wise’s co-defendant Robert Veal. “He’s probably guilty of every crime on the indictment.”

Wise and Veal are named in the 90-count indictment, along with Raphael Cross and Fernandez Whatley, that accused the foursome of murder, rape, aggravated assault and a month-long spree of robberies, home invasions and carjackings. The violence reached its pinnacle the night between Nov. 22 and 23, when a Virginia Highlands woman was raped hours after Charles Boyer was shot and killed during a robbery attempt.

“He died for nothing,” Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Lance Cross (no relation to the defendant) said to the jury.

Boyer was returning with his girlfriend from a nearby store when he encountered Wise, Veal, Cross and another person, prosecutors said. When the assailants ordered Boyer and the woman to let them into their home, Boyer told his girlfriend to run. He was fatally shot.

“Four hours later, Wise, Cross and Veal couldn’t pack it in,” Lance Cross said.

A young man walking back to his Grant Park apartment was forced into the home by the three bandits, where his male and female roommates were sleeping.

“They were woken up by a light popping on and these animals standing over the bed and yanking back the covers,” Lance Cross said.

The two male victims were tied up in the next room and with cross watching over them, while Veal and Wise raped and sodomized the woman, prosecutors said.

“That poor girl goes to the hospital and has to do a rape kit,” Lance Cross said. “It turns up Mr. Veal’s DNA. But they were still not done.”

The crime spree lasted from Oct. 19 to Nov. 27, and garnered considerable media attention as area law enforcement collected victims’ stories, and eventually video footage of possible suspects.

Wise’s attorney Thomas Wight claimed that everyone involved, from the prosecution to Wise’s co-defendants, was piling onto his client.

“The way to get people on your side or bring a group of people together is to dehumanize the other side,” Wight said. “What you do is call Mr. Wise an animal. ‘Mr. Wise is a savage … a predator … a thug. Mr. Wise is a young man that the state is trying to run over with a train.”

Whatley’s attorney, Cynthia Lain, said her client didn’t typically run with gang members and was not involved in any of the crimes he’s been charged with. She said she would bring him to the witness stand.

“The only evidence the state has is the confession he made,” Lain said. “He’s going to get on that stand and explain how he knew all those details he told police, and why he confessed for a crime he didn’t commit.”

White, on Veal’s behalf, accepted culpability for the Nov. 22 rape.

“We are not going to fight the rape charge,” White said, as his client stood and yawned. “Mr. Veal committed that rape. But he did not murder Charles Boyer.”

White then referred to Raphael Cross, who allegedly was at the scene of the murder and rape, and named on the 90-count indictment, but was absent at the defendant’s table.

“Raphael Cross is gone, somehow,” White said. “But he was part of this, too.”

Prosecutors said Cross was being withheld from the trial because he would be testifying against his co-defendants.

Witness testimony began late Wednesday afternoon.

Andrew Hoffman testified that his car was taken from him in broad daylight on Oct. 22, 2010 as he surveyed abandoned homes in the Lakewood neighborhood. Hoffman was left lying face-down in a gravel driveway as the pair left in his car.

“He said, ‘We’re going to steal your car,’” Hoffman recounted. The man continued, “If you look up from the gravel, I’m going to shoot you right between the eyes. Don’t move.”

Heinz Fojutowski was shot in the stomach the night of Oct. 22 as he parked to check into a hotel near Braves Stadium.

“He said, ‘Give me your cash and keys before I shoot you again,’” Fojutowski said from the witness stand.

Fojutowski was later arrested for possession of methamphetemines and marijuana, which paramedics and police found in his car.

Prosecutors said Wise and Octavious Porter, who isn’t named in the indictment, robbed Hoffman at gunpoint, with an armed Wise in full control, while Porter followed Wise’s instructions.

“The man with the gun was calling the shots,” Hoffman said, pointing at Wise’s mug shot.

Witnesses who testified Wednesday described a frightening visage that later, they would identify as Wise when reviewing a police line-up or seeing him weeks later in media reports of police look-outs.

“One day I was watching TV, and I saw his mug shot,” said Ashley Parks, who was reportedly Wise’s first armed robbery and carjacking victim. “I knew that face. It was as if I’d seen it the night before.”

Hoffman was visibly shaken, and wiped away tears as he described his encounter with Wise.

“I was shaking for a long time. … I’m still shaking,” he said. “The gentleman with the gun’s eyes … they were dead like a shark.”

Testimony continues at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in the Fulton County courthouse.

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