Telly Hankton will turn 40 this Saturday in Angola, where he is serving a life sentence for the 2008 murder of Darnell Stewart. However, his legal battles are not behind him. On Monday, jury selection began for the federal racketeering trial of Hankton, alleged top hitter Walter “Urkel” Porter, cousin Andre “Reese” Hankton and Kevin “Kev” Jackson. They are the last of 13 original defendants charged in 2012 24-count indictment (modified in 2014). Hankton and the others are charged with running a violent trap operation based in Central City, New Orleans.
Court documents show federal prosecutors believe Hankton, his family and associates operated a drug-dealing cartel that generated at least $43.2 million in ill-gotten gains since 1996 from sales of crack cocaine, powdered cocaine, heroin and marijuana. Prosecutors also argue Hankton and his associates ruthlessly eliminated rivals and either killed, tried to kill or threatened those who testified against them or attempted to prosecute them.
The office of U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite suspects Hankton of being involved in 10 killings. Five of them are tied into the prosecution’s upcoming case. It is alleged that Hankton was the shooter in three of those killings: Darvin Bessie in April 2006, Darnell Stewart in May 2008 and Jesse “TuTu” Reed in June 2009. According to reports, Stewart fatally clapped Hanton’s cousin, George “Cup” Hankton, in Hollygrove five months earlier. New Orleans police say cousin Andre Hankton chased Stewart down with telly in a car, striking him with the automobile. Investigators say Telly hopped out and pumped eight deadly slugs into Stewart, including four to the face.
Porter is accused of accepting $10,000 a piece to kill Reed and Hasan Williams, who witnessed Reed’s killing and took the stand before a grand jury in Orleans Parish. Porter allegedly took another 10 racks for the failed attempted murking of John Matthews. Matthews, owner of the Jazz Daiquiris, had plans on testifying that he saw Hankton running past the lounge after Stewart was killed close by. He survived a barrage of 17 bullets and went to to testify against Hankton twice. However, Mathews’ brother, Curtis, was shot down outside of the lounge in 2011. The prosecution accused Porter of this alleged “retribution killing.”
The five other bodies that Telly Hankton is accused of will not be included in the case, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ruled. NOLA.com reports:
Feldman last week ruled jurors would not hear all the evidence government prosecutors Elizabeth Privitera, William J. Quinlan, David Haller and Brittany Reed hoped to stack against Hankton. The ruling excluded from trial the uncharged accusation that Hankton, and not Michael “MikeMike” Anderson, was responsible for the infamous fatal shooting of five teens at Josephine and Danneel streets on June 17, 2006.
Anderson was convicted and sentenced to death in 2009 for that Central City massacre. But his state sentence later was overturned and reduced to 80 years after he pleaded no contest to manslaughter in 2011, still maintaining he did not commit the mass shooting. Anderson separately was convicted in federal court and sentenced to life in prison for attempting to kill a police officer and other crimes related to his running the “Josephine Dog Pound” narcotics ring.
But in a motion filed two months ago, Privitera revealed the government now believes Hankton committed the 2006 mass murder “to maintain and advance the goals” of his criminal enterprise, and that he gunned down the five teens who were inside an SUV before running down Josephine Street to his mother Shirley’s house.
Feldman ruled that allowing the jury to hear the uncharged allegation could create “unfair prejudice,” and wrote that he viewed the quintuple murder less an essential chapter of the racketeering case as “its own story comprised of many chapters.”
If convicted, he could possibly be transferred out of Angola to the supermax in Florence, CO, where he may not have the status he enjoys in his home state pen.