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Witness against suspected Heartless Felon had her house shot at, prosecutors say

June 22, 2018 GMT

Witness against suspected Heartless Felon had her house shot at, prosecutors say

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A key witness in the murder trial of a suspected Heartless Felons gang member called a prosecutor Thursday morning and said a car full of men just shot up her house, prosecutors said during a Thursday afternoon hearing.

The witness, who had told prosecutors at the beginning of the trial that she wasn’t going to show up to testify against Da’Montais Banks, sounded panicked and said she feared she was going to get killed, a victim advocate who overheard the call testified.

The disclosure came at the end of the day-long hearing on a motion by prosecutors that accused Banks and members of the Heartless Felons of trying to intimidate witnesses through violence and threats to keep them from showing up at court.

Prosecutors argued that Banks gave up his right to confront his accusers in court by scaring them away, and asked Common Pleas Court Judge Kathleen Ann Sutula to let them play for the jury previous statements the witnesses made to police.

Sutula, who held the hearing without the jury present, is expected to issue her ruling Monday morning.

A Cleveland police gang detective testified Thursday that a witness to one of the killings said someone had told him after he was shot in December that the Heartless Felons had put out a $20,000 hit on him. The detective also testified that a jailhouse snitch said Banks had taken credit for the bounty.

Prosecutors also played a video that was posted on Instagram in October that shows a man who is charged alongside Banks in one killing saying the witness who was later shot in December was cooperating with police and “lying” about Banks.

Banks’s defense lawyers argued that a person’s right to confront their witnesses in court is a hallmark of the Constitution, and prosecutors failed to provide direct evidence that showed Banks actually carried out any of the acts.

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“You can’t have responsibility for what other people are doing in their community,” Assistant Cuyahoga County Public Defender Da’Montais Banks.

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Banks is charged in four fatal shootings that resulted in five deaths spanning from August 2015 through January 2017.

Prosecutors say he drove the car from which Brendon “BB” Watts shot and killed Gregory Norman in an August 2015 drive-by. 

Banks is charged alone in the May 2016 ambush-style shooting of Dion Pratt.

In January 2017, prosecutors say Banks, Julius Claxton and Darien Hayes shot Carlos Hurt during a failed carjacking, then carjacked a woman, drove to the Harvard Wine and Grille and tried to shoot a rival gang member. The intended target, Jesus Bey, returned fire in a shootout that would eventually leave Claxton and Hayes dead. 

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