Jury Begins Deliberations In Jimmy Henchman Murder For Hire Trial
Closing arguments wrapped up Tuesday, Mar. 4, in the murder-for-hire trial of the former Game manager and CEO of Czar Entertainment, James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond, and co-defendant Rodney Johnson. Henchman, 49, is facing four counts—including murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder—for the September 2009 shooting death of G-Unit affiliate Lowell "Lodi Mack" Fletcher in New York City. Mack had served almost two years in prison after pleading guilty to endangering the welfare of a child (as well as a prior drug charge) related to a 2007 incident in which Henchman's son was slapped and assaulted on West 25th Street in Manhattan outside his father's office by a group of G-Unit associates that included Tony Yayo and Mack. Mack pleaded guilty to the assault charge, while Yayo got off with a lesser harassment charge and 10 days of community service; two weeks after Mack got out of prison, he was killed in the Bronx.
The Henchman trial began Feb. 10 and included testimony from more than 35 witnesses. Henchman, who was handed a life sentence last October after being convicted in June 2012 of running a multi-million-dollar drug trafficking ring, was initially arrested on drug charges in June 2011 and was indicted on the murder and conspiracy charges just weeks after his drug conviction.
The prosecution's case traces a history of violence and shootings going back to January 2003, when the "blood feud," as prosecutors called it, between Czar Entertainment and G-Unit—as well as 50 Cent's management company, Violator Management, run by the late Chris Lighty—first turned violent with a shooting outside the Violator offices on West 25th Street. Czar's offices were across the street from Violator's front door.
Update, 7:43 pm: Jury Returns Partial Verdict In Jimmy Henchman Trial
"25th Street Becomes A War Zone"
Federal prosecutors painted a picture of a violent, years-long feud between Czar and G-Unit, which took off after Henchman's client Game, whom he managed, had a public falling out with 50 Cent in early 2005. But the personal feud between Henchman and Lighty was traced back even further, with allegations of Lighty's car being shot up in February 2003 as well as a number of other incidents in which plans were made to assault Lighty. After 50 Cent publicly kicked Game out of G-Unit in February 2005 during an interview on Hot 97, Game tried to enter the radio station, leading to a shooting between Game's and 50's respective crews that left one of 50's associates in the hospital with a bullet wound. Later that day, Violator's offices were shot up again, allegedly by Stewart on the orders of Henchman.
The feud continued at the Mixtape Awards at the Apollo Theater in December 2006, when G-Unit members allegedly rushed the door and flashed a gun, with Henchman then being escorted from the premises for safety reasons. According to the prosecution, Henchman had Tony Yayo's Bentley shot up that night in retaliation by men hired by another associate, Khalil Abdullah. Diddy would later attempt to broker a peace between Lighty and Henchman, which was rejected when Lighty apparently attacked Henchman in the meeting, according to Abdullah's testimony.
Abdullah isn't the only one of Henchman's associates to have cooperated with the U.S. government in the trial against Henchman. Stewart testified in the trial as well, in addition to Brian McCleod, who admitted involvement in Mack's murder, and Brian James, who admitted to being a part of Abdullah and Rodney Johnson's alleged cocaine distribution operation. Those four compose the government's key witnesses in linking Mack's killing to the murder-for-hire operation, the seeds of which spread from the March 2007 assault on Henchman's son.
Lodi Mack Takes The Rap
After Henchman's son was attacked, "everything changed," according to the prosecution. Henchman allegedly became obsessed with revenge, personally firing bullets into Yayo's mother's house while the G-Unit member's sister and her child were inside, ordering the shooting of G-Unit road manager Baja Walters' house in Staten Island as well as burning bulletproof Jeeps owned by G-Unit. "That's what this war was about," prosecutors said in their closing remarks. "To kill a member of G-Unit."
After Mack took the rap for the assault on Henchman's son, the Czar chief apparently turned his full attention to other members of the Unit, putting a bounty on the heads of Yayo and Walters, according to Stewart, who claimed to wear a bulletproof vest every day out of fear of retaliation. Brian James testified that Johnson, who was associated with Henchman through their cocaine distribution operation, told him in March 2009 that Henchman offered $5,000 to shoot Lighty in the legs; five grand per leg. That shooting never occurred.
It was in August 2009, however, that the Mack incident began to come together. According to McCleod's testimony, he had been in the same jail as Mack, and they had mutual friends. Once McCleod got out of prison that month, he contacted Henchman, saying that he had a line on the man who slapped Henchman's son. Over a series of meetings around Manhattan—outside of Central Park, in a Whole Foods near Columbus Circle—McCleod claimed that Henchman offered him $30,000 in return for setting up Mack. Upon Mack's release in mid-September 2009, McCleod befriended Mack, eventually setting up a meeting on the night of Sept. 27, the night Mack was murdered.