Some of New Orleans’ least charming features were also among the quickest to return after Hurricane Katrina. Mass murder was among them, and 19-year-old Michael “MikeMike” Anderson became the face of that bloody phenomenon through the flashbulbs of a July 13, 2006, “perp walk.”
His arrest came a month after five teenagers were gunned down in Central City — an event that rocked the city 10 years ago next week and that would briefly land Anderson a death sentence.
Anderson, who has been behind bars ever since, presented a different image Thursday in a federal courtroom in New Orleans: that of a garrulous witness for the prosecution in the ongoing racketeering trial of Telly Hankton, two cousins and alleged hit man Walter Porter.
Wearing orange jail scrubs, Anderson chronicled a sordid history of drug dealing and bloodshed around the stretch of Josephine Street where he and Hankton both lived in the early 2000s, and where he said Hankton served as his — and the neighborhood’s — exclusive cocaine supplier.
“When he come up with drugs, people come out from everywhere,” Anderson said. “He never had a cellphone. He didn’t really do that.”
Anderson said Hankton dealt in quarter-kilos and half-kilos — never selling less than an ounce and never dealing with street users. He said Hankton owned several four-wheel motorbikes and motorcycles that he rumbled through the area, coming out at night to do business.
Anderson, now 29, also described meeting with Hankton in the since-shuttered Orleans Parish House of Detention sometime in late 2009, to trade favors.
Anderson had just been sentenced to death, on Aug. 29, 2009, for the notorious quintuple killing that was dubbed the “Central City massacre.”
Hankton, meanwhile, was awaiting trial in a different killing: the May 2008 slaying of Darnell “Durney” Stewart, whom Anderson described as a close friend.
Hankton had earlier posted $1 million bail in Stewart’s murder and been released. He returned to jail after allegedly gunning down another rival, Jessie “TuTu” Reed, on June 20, 2009, with the aid of Porter and a cousin, Kevin Jackson.
In the eighth-floor showers of the House of Detention, Hankton “was like, ‘Man, I gotta go to trial too, man.’ He was saying a witness was coming to court” to testify against him in Stewart’s killing, Anderson said.
Hankton asked Anderson to make a call for him from a contraband cellphone that Anderson said he kept in jail, hiding it in a drain pipe.
“He told me to call Dump and (tell him to) call Squirt to tell him to go on a ‘W,’ ” Anderson said. He said he made the call on Hankton’s behalf.
Derrick “Dump” Smothers and Thomas “Squirt” Hankton both have pleaded guilty in the racketeering case. Anderson said he understood the “W” to mean a hit on the witness Hankton feared would testify against him.
That witness, federal prosecutors say, was John Matthews, who would be shot 17 times in his home in New Orleans East in October 2010.
Matthews would later identify Thomas Hankton as the man who fired a shotgun blast through his front door. Federal prosecutors said Hankton was joined that time by Porter, though Matthews didn’t finger Porter as the one who plugged him with 9 mm bullets.
“He said he was going to help me with my appellate attorneys,” Anderson told the jury of Hankton’s end of the bargain struck in the jail shower.
What the jury didn’t hear was that federal prosecutors now claim it was Hankton, not Anderson, who perpetrated the single-gunman massacre at Josephine and Danneel streets, and that Hankton allegedly offered to help Anderson with his appeal out of a sense of guilt over the death sentence his neighbor had received.
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman last week barred prosecutors from introducing the allegation that Hankton was the gunman who killed teens Reggie Dantzler, Warren Simeon, Iraum Taylor, Markee Hunter and Arsenio Hunter in 2006.
A state judge overturned Anderson’s conviction and death sentence in the quintuple killing on different grounds. However, Anderson later pleaded no contest to five state manslaughter counts as part of a state-federal plea deal in which he also admitted to a different murder as a leader of the “Josephine Dog Pound” gang.
Now serving a life term in federal custody, Anderson readily admitted Thursday he was hoping his cooperation in the Hankton case and others will entice Feldman to agree on a “number” — something less than a life sentence.
“I’ll take anything if I can get it,” he said, adding that lying wouldn’t help him.
Anderson described his front-row seat to a feud that developed between his friend, Brian “Pluck” Broussard, and Telly Hankton, who grew angry that Broussard was selling heroin from the porch of Hankton’s aunt’s house on Josephine.
“Telly came and told Pluck to get off the porch,” Anderson said, and to stop parking his car in front of the home of Shirley Hankton, Telly’s mother. She was among nine former co-defendants who pleaded guilty before trial.
“He didn’t want people to think Pluck was selling drugs for him,” Anderson said.
Anderson insisted he wasn’t part of Broussard’s response — his stated desire to kill Hankton — though he was there when Broussard said it.
The Hankton-Broussard dispute, prosecutors say, led to the killings of Stewart, Reed, a witness to Reed’s murder and Curtis Matthews, the brother of John Matthews, along with the 2006 murder of Darvin Bessie, for which Hankton also is charged in a 24-count federal indictment.
Anderson said he saw Hankton shoot at Broussard and another man in 2004. He said Hankton once approached him asking if Anderson wanted him dead. Anderson said no.
“We weren’t talking about killing Telly. Pluck was talking about killing Telly,” Anderson said. “(Hankton) is like my cousin. That’s like my big homie. I never tried to do anything like disrespect (him).”
As Hankton watched Thursday, prosecutors and attorneys for the four remaining defendants in the case — Hankton, Porter, Kevin Jackson and Andre Hankton — danced around the forbidden topic of the Central City massacre.
Anderson also said he briefly met Porter in a federal holding cell, claiming Porter admitted to him that he’d killed an acquaintance of Anderson known as “Skunk” — a killing for which Porter has not been charged.
Anderson, who acknowledged sending numerous letters to Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Privitera offering his testimony in the Hankton case, said his cooperation has resulted in numerous prison attacks on him.
He’s said he’s been labeled a “rat” and has spent more than six years in isolation for his own protection.
“I’ve been rained on in three or four different yards: stabbing me, jumping me,” he said.
After his testimony Thursday, Anderson said, “If I go in a yard, I might get killed.”
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.