Sunday Interview: Juvenile Court Judge Warner Kennon on the youth gang issues in Columbus
Three teens who have been linked by Columbus police to entering more than 100 vehicles were back in Recorder’s Court Friday to face charges of participation in criminal gang activity.
Jaylen McCain, 18, pleaded not guilty to four counts of participation in criminal gang activity while Marquez Davis, 18, pleaded not guilty to three counts. Tresean Persaud, 18, delayed his hearing on three counts on the same charge until Monday. Judge Julius Hunter set no bond on charges for Davis and McCain but bound the charges over to Muscogee Superior Court.
A criminal gang investigator for the Columbus Police Department said the charges are part of a continuing investigation into theft by receiving stolen property and entering more than 100 vehicles, although all are not charged in the offenses. He identified Davis and McCain as members or associates of the Gangster Disciples, Zohannon or a subset of the 4100 gang.
The investigator identified McCain as the leader of the group and his home was used as a central location. Property from crimes was sold and money was given to McCain.
Weapons are used by members to protect their interests, he said. In a statement from Davis to police, the investigator said he denied being a member of a gang but was part of the 4100.
Attorney Stacey Jackson, who represents McCain, asked about evidence against the teen for gang participation. McCain was in a vehicle when it was stolen, said the officer who isn’t identified because of threats.
“He actually participated in a vehicle theft,” the investigator said.
In representing Davis, attorney Chance Hardy wanted to know what tied the teen to gang participation. The officer said he has been an associate or a member.
Judge Hunter wanted to know why McCain had more charges than the other two suspects. The investigator said he is the director of the group.
“That’s why he got the additional charge,” he said.
Outside the courtroom, the investigator said many of the cases are tied to a Toyota Tundra that was stolen Sept. 18 from an Essex Drive home. The stolen vehicle was used in a number of entering autos cases where thousands of dollars worth of property was taken, including firearms.
During a search of McCain’s residence on Sept. 24, police found several items. Three suspects were arrested on the night the Tundra was recovered. A gun was found on one suspect, he said.
The investigator said some of the individuals have admitted to thefts.
“Some of it, we never recovered,” he said of the stolen property. “A lot of it has been sold.’
To date, three adults and four juveniles have been charged in connection with the ongoing investigation. Other adults also will face charges , the investigator said.