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FBI officials detail gunfire, cash as testimony continues in Delta Blues case

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published June 5, 2014 at 10:45 a.m. Updated June 5, 2014 at 1:22 p.m.


Demetrius Alex Colbert aka "D Coop" - Operation Delta Blues.

1 p.m. update

The common-law wife of a Marianna man accused of dealing large amounts of cocaine in eastern Arkansas took the stand Thursday, testifying she never heard officers serving a search warrant identify themselves as authorities until after shots were exchanged.

In addition to the drug counts against him, Demetrius Colbert is also accused of opening fire during the early morning raid Oct. 11, 2011, wounding an FBI agent who was forcing entry into Colbert's home.

Colbert's wife, Catina Davis, recounted her memory of the raid in U.S. District Court on Thursday as the fourth day of Colbert's trial continued.

In sometimes tearful testimony, Davis said she was asleep with Colbert in the home's master bedroom when he jumped out of bed and ran down the hall.

"I just heard like a lot of gun noises going off," Davis said, saying Colbert told her that somebody was "trying to break in."

Davis testified she never heard anyone yell "FBI" or "police" until after she made contact with one of the officers a short time later.

"I said, 'My kids are in the house: Don't shoot, don't shoot," she testified she told the man. "He said, 'It's the FBI; come out with your hands up.'"

Under cross-examination from defense attorney Mark Hampton, Davis said she and Colbert's homes were broken into four times in different places they lived around Arkansas in previous years.

Prosecutors then questioned Davis about why she thought they had been targeted, asking about Colbert's ownership of diamond jewelry, multiple cars and flat-screen televisions.

Davis said it's possible the burglars knew that Colbert sold clothes and believed he had money from that venture. But, she said, she had no knowledge that he was selling drugs, suggesting he made money through the clothing sales and a detailing business he ran.

Prosecutors, though, pointed out in direct questioning that Davis pleaded guilty to money laundering tied to $12,000 Colbert gave her to make a down payment on their house and that she signed a statement then acknowledging she was aware the cash was "from the unlawful distribution of drugs."

"I don't remember that," Davis replied as she looked over the agreement.

10:45 a.m. update

Testimony continued Thursday in the trial of Demetrius Colbert, with FBI officials describing more than $420,000 seized from Colbert's property and detailing analysis of gunfire exchanged during the raid that resulted in his arrest.

Colbert, of Marianna, is accused of dealing large quantities of cocaine in Lee and Phillips counties, and of opening fire and hitting an FBI agent who was using a battering ram to force entry into Colbert's home during the Oct. 11, 2011, raid. His arrest came as part of the large-scale investigation into drug trafficking and corruption in eastern Arkansas that authorities named Operation Delta Blues.

On Thursday, the fourth day of Colbert's trial in U.S. district court, one FBI official testified that a bullet fragment from the wounded officer's leg bore similar characteristics to how one fired from a handgun recovered inside the house would look. Another FBI official testified that at least eight shots were fired from inside the house toward the outside, while authorities returned fire five times.

A third FBI official, Agent Dayne Henriques, told the jury of five men and seven women that investigators found $423,313 in cash inside Colbert's home and in an Oldsmobile Cutlass parked outside. Some of the money was stuffed into shopping bags; nearly a quarter-million of it was vacuum-sealed inside an Adidas gym bag inside the home, Henriques said.

The testimony came after Colbert addressed the court before the jury was in the room, telling U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. that U.S. marshals were mistreating him.

Among his complaints, Colbert said the marshals charged with keeping him in custody had unfairly accused him of trying to stop up a toilet in the courthouse and then wouldn't give him enough toilet paper as he needed; withheld his breakfast; wrinkled his clothes intentionally while saying the hanger they were on was a weapon, when it hadn't been a problem other days; and wouldn't give him any soap to wash his hands after using the restroom.

"They've just been disrespectful, violating all my constitutional rights," Colbert said. "They're treating me like I ain't no human being. Because I'm locked up, I'm not a human being? I believe I am."

Moody said he would "check into" the complaints.


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