- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2001

A reluctant witness yesterday changed his testimony twice in the murder-racketeering-conspiracy trial of Tommy Edelin and five co-defendants, accused of killing 14 persons in the 1990s.
In testimony in U.S. District Court, Danta Barnes focused on co-defendant Bryan Bostick, who is charged with shooting and killing innocent bystanders Rodney Smith, 19, and his sister Volante, 15, on their way to a Christmas party on Dec. 17, 1993, in Southeast.
Under direct examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney William Sullivan Jr., Barnes began by testifying slowly and reluctantly that he paid Mr. Bostick $300 to $350 for a .40-caliber Glock pistol in 1994, 10 months after the murders. Barnes also said he knew he could be prosecuted for perjury if he lied on the witness stand.
He seemed to relax and talk more easily as he was cross-examined by Mr. Bosticks attorney Diane Savage. She asked about a meeting with Barnes and Mr. Bosticks other attorney, Cary Clemons, on April 7 outside Barnes home in Southeast.
"You said you absolutely never got that gun from Bryan?" said Mrs. Savage.
"Right," replied Barnes.
Barnes responded "Right" again when Mrs. Savage recalled that he had accused police of trying to put words in his mouth and being "really afraid not to cooperate with them now."
The defense attorney recalled that Barnes had said he obtained the Glock from a drunken friend, then said, "The truth is you did not get that gun from Bryan?"
"Yes," he said.
Under redirect by Mr. Sullivan, Barnes confirmed he called authorities after the April meeting with Mrs. Savage and Mr. Clemons. He also answered affirmatively when asked if he was afraid of Bryan Bostick.
When Mr. Sullivan asked if it was true that Barnes bought the gun from Mr. Bostick "as you testified 20 minutes ago under oath," Barnes answered, "Right."
If convicted in the trial, which is expected to last about three months, Mr. Edelin could be sentenced to death. His co-defendants — Mr. Bostick; Mr. Edelins father, Earl "Tony" Edelin; Shelton "Wah-Luck" Marbury; Henry "Blue" Johnson; and Marwin "Funky" Mosley could be sentenced to life in prison.
Former D.C. resident Eric Dennis, 35, came from Columbia, S.C., to testify about seeing the shooting of Volante and Rodney at the intersection of Randle Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Mr. Dennis, a roofer, former Boy Scout and all-purpose McDonalds employee, said he was talking on the phone to his sister when he heard the shots.
The shooter was wearing a black baseball cap, dark jacket or sweater and white sneakers, he said. After the shooting, Mr. Dennis said he helped medics remove Volante and Rodney from their sports car and load them into an ambulance, where he administered cardio-pulmonary rescuscitation on Yolande.
"I did CPR, but it didnt do any good," Mr. Dennis said. "She was clearly dead."
Volante and Rodneys mother, Shandra Smith, testified yesterday she was in another car en route to the Christmas party when "I heard a lot of gunshots." For some reason, Mrs. Smith said, she didnt want to go to the party. "I just wanted to go home," just a couple blocks from the shooting, she said.
Mrs. Smith said she saw Monica Stafford, whom she knew had been in the sports car. Miss Stafford told her that Volante and Rodney had been shot, and Mrs. Smith ran to the scene of the shooting.
Yesterday Mrs. Smith wept as she described her reaction. "I sat down on the curb," she said.

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