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Dealing with the Devil

The Deuce-Seven Bloods spin out of control, ripping families apart--including their own.

"Who stayed in the living room with you?"
"Monkey Boy and that young kid," he says, referring to Maurice and Jacob "Smiley" Casados. "There was Monkey Boy watching me. There was another boy watching her."

"What are you doing?"
It's time for more Uncle Joe heroics. "I am thinking about hitting this guy...gettin' the strength to knock him out. And I was going to go after the other one and knock him out and run out with her," he says, then shakes his head. "But I have two kids in the bedroom still sleepin'...My main concern is them. If they weren't there, it would have been a different story, let me tell you."

"Did people come out of the back room?"
"They came out...they went to the front, by the front door. They go out except for Danny Boy. They went out like there was somethin' chasing them."

"What did Danny do?"
"Danny stayed there...I tell Danny Boy, screaming at him, 'You better not mess with her. You better take her to the hospital. You better drop her off at her house. Don't fuck with her.'"

"What did Danny tell you?" Randall asks quietly.
"'Oh, Uncle Joe, I am going to take her home,'" he says. "Like a good little boy." The gang left with the girl about 4:30 a.m.

"Let me ask you, what did you do then, after they all left and you closed the door?"

"I started praying."
Kaplan objects to the statement on grounds that it isn't relevant. "I'd ask that it be stricken," he says, and Villano complies.

"Did you call the police?"
"No, sir."
"Why not?"
"I was scared."
"Scared of who?"
"The Bloods."

The next morning, Uncle Joe cleaned up his house. He found a lot of beer and liquor bottles and the girl's clothes and her Nikes. "I looked inside the pants. There was a pack of Marlboros, and I smoked one."

"Anything else in the pants?"
"I found a prayer card. It broke me up."
As he was cleaning up, his son woke. "I said, 'Come here, hijito. Look at what these Bloods did. I don't want you to be part of no gang.'"

About 10 a.m., Danny returned to the house. "He tried to get my boy to put them shoes on. 'Here. Try these on.'"

"What did you do?"
"I said, 'Don't put those shoes on. Don't try them on. Danny is going to take them back to the girl. Them are hers.'"

Danny took the clothes and shoes, as well as a bag of bloody sheets, out to a dumpster in the alley.

"You told us earlier you found a prayer card in her pants. Did Danny take it?"

"No," Uncle Joe says. "In case I got shot, they dust me, I stuffed it under the sink."

Randall holds up a plastic bag with a card in it. "I show you what has been marked as People's Exhibit 30. Can you tell me what that is?"

"That is her card." The prosecutor lets this sink in. Only a few days ago, Bakke read from the card in her opening. See I have not forgotten you. I have carved you in the palm of my hands.

Several days later, Zig Zag and Danny returned to take the mattress. Uncle Joe helped.

"Why did you do that?"
"I am not going to say no to them guys. I'm not crazy."
In fact, Randall points out, Jose Martinez said nothing until the police came looking for him. Uncle Joe explains that he had been asking his family what to do. "This doesn't happen every day. I asked my sister, my other sister, my daughter, her husband, one of my other daughter's husband." But no one would help. "They turned their backs on me...I am trying to figure out what to do. I have the police on this side. I've got the Bloods on that side. I am right in the middle."

As for the witness-protection program he was put in after he agreed to testify against the Bloods, "I was given $1,000; a U-Haul was loaded up," Uncle Joe says. "Wherever a thousand bucks would take you, which ain't too far, that is where I went."

All day long, the courtroom has been packed. Loraine Bartles and her sixteen-year-old son sit on the bench outside, waiting for someone to leave so they can take their seats. As a woman exits, Bartles sends her son inside.

"Pancho is my husband's nephew," she explains. "I talk to my son every day about staying out of gangs. I brought him here because he wanted to see Pancho and because I wanted him to see how serious this really is.

"It's so hard to raise kids now. There's nothing for them to do. He wants this and he wants that...I tell him to get a job. He had one at the beginning of the summer but lost it."

Long ago, Bartles recalls, she used to babysit for the defendant and his sisters. "Pancho was a good kid, always happy...They're a good family, always together. He has like five uncles and six aunts.

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