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HomeNewsArchivesDrugs, Dog Fighting and Deadly Hits: VIPD Cop, Drug Dealer on Trial

Drugs, Dog Fighting and Deadly Hits: VIPD Cop, Drug Dealer on Trial

Sure to open a rare window onto the world of local dog fighting, international cocaine dealing and gun violence, the long-awaited trial of V.I. Police Sgt. Jerome Blyden and twice-convicted drug dealer Gelean Mark, on federal racketeering and attempted murder charges, opened Monday in federal District Court.
At the center of the charges against the pair is the attempted murder of Trevor “Nick Nick” Friday Jr., son of the late Jam Band leader, in front of a Smith Bay market in May 2004.
In his opening statements Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Lindquist said Friday had muscled in on the local crack cocaine market run by “The Enterprise,” which Lindquist said was a racket that between at least 1999 and 2005 engaged in drug distribution, illegal gambling, dog fighting and violence to protect the members and their interests.
Gelean Mark was in charge of the dog fighting and drug trafficking organization, Lindquist said. “He was the trafficker and the promoter,” he said.
Using his power and tools of his trade as a VIPD sergeant, Blyden “was the enforcer and the bodyguard,” Lindquist said.
When Friday refused to back off of their crack turf in Smith Bay and snubbed an offer to work for “The Enterprise,” Mark and Blyden decided to “deal with Mr. Friday in an alternative way – to kill him, to take him out,” Lindquist said.
Damien Daniel, one of the first prosecution witnesses to be called after opening statements Monday, said he was inside the nearby Hi Ho market on the night of May 24, 2004, when he heard gunshots and ran outside.
There, he said, he saw Blyden with both hands on a pistol standing over Friday, who was lying on the ground seriously wounded by multiple gunshots, but still alive thanks to a bullet-proof vest. Daniel said he drove off as soon as he could, leaving Friday on the ground begging for help.
Former VIPD officer Delanore Francis, Friday’s aunt and a colleague of Blyden at the time, said Blyden had warned her just days before the shooting that Friday owned money to “Kerwin” – which is Mark’s underworld nickname – and that he (Blyden) was going to “touch him up.”
“I took it to mean bodily harm,” she said Monday, adding that Friday’s grandmother’s house had been shot up in recent days and that she was starting to put the pieces together about the time her nephew was shot.
Besides Daniel’s graphic testimony of the seconds or minutes after Friday was shot, most of the evidence offered Monday merely established the location and appearance of the scene of the attempted murder, which Blyden’s defense attorney, Treston Moore, said was actually the scene of a shooting in self-defense.
“He has from the first day asserted his innocence,” Moore said of Blyden, adding that he was excited to finally “have his day in court” after all these years. Both men weren’t indicted until 2008 on the current charges.
Because of the 2004 shooting, Blyden has spent almost half of his 13-year VIPD career on paid leave, during which time he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree.
With all the witnesses expected to testify, Moore warned jurors that the trial “is going to take a little while.”
Both men face life in prison if convicted on all counts.
Chief Judge Curtis Gomez said testimony will resume promptly at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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