A federal court jury did not reach a verdict Friday and will return Monday to continue deliberating in the federal racketeering trial of accused Central City drug dealer Telly Hankton, alleged hit man Walter Porter and two Hankton cousins.
The jury of eight men and four women spent Friday weighing murder, drug and gun conspiracy counts, as well as five murder charges, against Hankton, Porter, Andre Hankton and Kevin Jackson.
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman granted the jury’s request to take the weekend off and return Monday morning.
The jurors are weighing testimony from 60 witnesses and hundreds of exhibits to decide on charges against the four men contained in a 24-count indictment that accuses Telly Hankton of leading a drug ring centered around his family’s Josephine Street stronghold.
The slayings, including the killing of a witness and the killing of a second witness’s brother, stand at the center of the government’s case that Hankton enforced a cocaine-dealing monopoly through violence, then sought to confound the justice system through bloodshed and a paid-for alibi.
Attorneys for the four men claim the prosecution’s case is built shakily on Hankton’s notoriety, a parade of suspect inmate witnesses and the tainted work of a discredited and imprisoned former homicide detective who is now the subject of a federal civil rights probe.
Porter is accused in three of the slayings in the indictment, as well as an attack on a witness who survived at least 17 gunshots to repeatedly testify against Telly Hankton, who is now serving a life prison term for a state conviction in the 2008 murder of rival Darnell “Durney” Stewart.
Porter also awaits a life sentence, having been convicted in March by a different federal jury over an unrelated November 2010 hit on Christopher “Tiger” Smith, who was gunned down in a barrage of 28 bullets in his Gretna doorway.
All four defendants face gun conspiracy charges, while Telly Hankton and Jackson also face drug conspiracy counts. All but Andre Hankton are named in the main racketeering count.
Nine other defendants, most of them Hankton family members, pleaded guilty before the trial, which began June 6.