Three Plead Guilty to Tampering with Witness by Physical Force
Three Flint residents pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness by physical force to prevent the witness from testifying in a federal criminal case, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Pleading guilty were Christopher Blackwell, 27, Lawrence Christopher Davis, 22, and Lezlye Taylor, 22. The defendants entered their pleas before U.S. District Judge Terrence G. Berg in Flint.
According to court documents, in July 2014, Blackwell received a telephone call from an incarcerated man facing trial who stated that witnesses were cooperating against him. During their telephone conversation, Blackwell promised to prevent one of the witnesses from cooperating. On July 26, 2014, Taylor met up with the witness and informed Blackwell of the witness’s location as the two were leaving a building together. When the victim left the building, Blackwell and Davis shot him in both legs. Sixteen days after the shooting, law enforcement officers recovered one of the firearms used to shoot at the victim when Davis discarded it from his vehicle.
“Intimidation and harm to witnesses contribute to the ‘no snitch’ philosophy, which prevents people from reporting crimes,” McQuade said. “We will do all we can to protect witnesses in criminal cases, including prosecuting anyone who attempts to harm a witness.”
“Attempting to obstruct justice through threats or actual violence, especially when a witness to a crime is involved, is a very serious offense” said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Detroit Division, “The FBI places a premium on ensuring the personal safety and protection of all witnesses of crimes.”
Sentencing for Davis is scheduled for December 1. Sentencing for Taylor is set for December 15 and sentencing for Blackwell is scheduled for January 19, 2017. Each face a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
The case was investigated by special agents of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by an Assistant United States Attorney from the Flint Branch of the United States Attorney’s Office.