Crime

Lengthy trial in North Miami Terrorist Boyz gang case ends in hung jury, three verdicts

After more than six weeks of trial, a jury deadlocked Friday on more than a dozen counts against a reputed member of North Miami’s Terrorist Boyz gang, while convicting him of one charge, and acquitting him of two others.

The hung jury led a Miami-Dade judge to declare a mistrial against Benson Cadet, who was accused of participating in a bloody street war over a decade ago that led to the killings of at least 12 people, and dozens of other shootings.

The jury did agree to convict Cadet of one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, while acquitting him of one murder charge, and one attempted murder charge. The jury began deliberating on Tuesday, but could not reach a unanimous verdict on 15 counts.

Cadet had been facing the death penalty. Friday’s mistrial means Cadet faces a second trial that could last months between jury selection, testimony, arguments and deliberations.

“We will continue to prosecute Benson Cadet upon retrial of this case because we believe the evidence speaks to his direct involvement in these vicious street crimes in the cities of North Miami and North Miami Beach,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors say the Terrorist Boyz began their reign of terror in March 2002, after ramming a car through the front door of a Broward County gun shop and stealing 33 firearms. Dressed in all-black, wearing ski masks and gloves, the Terrorist Boyz used the weapons and stolen cars to mount a series of “missions” to gun down their enemies, prosecutors said.

Cadet, 36, himself was accused of taking part in four murders and over a dozen attempted murders in North Miami-Dade, a spate of violence that alarmed city leaders and led to the creation of a police task force.

Five suspected members of the gang were indicted on murder charges in 2007. The Terrorist Boyz gang case has the notoriety of being the most expensive death-penalty case in recent Florida history.

Those indicted were Jean-Marie, Cadet, Max Daniel, Robert St. Germain and the suspected ringleader, Johnny Charles, also known as the “Angel of Death.” St. Germain pleaded guilty three years ago and agreed to a 12-year prison sentence. Daniel and Charles are awaiting trial.

Last year, after seven weeks of testimony, another jury convicted Frantzy Jean-Marie, 36, of committing two murders and four attempted murders, as well as conspiracy and racketeering. The same jury declined to mete out the death penalty, and Jean-Marie is now serving life in prison.

In Cadet’s trial, prosecutors presented testimony from police detectives, eyewitnesses and former gang members who agreed to testify. Cadet’s defense lawyer, Scott Sakin, said the state was relying on scant evidence and the word of “snitches” and “rats.”

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