WILMINGTON – The jury has been chosen for the trial of the alleged leader of the “Marlena Park Gang.”
The trial of Phillip T. Davis, 33, of Wilmington, started Tuesday with jury selection and opening statements from the prosecution and defense.
Davis was charged with more than 500 counts including aggravated trafficking of drugs, possession of cocaine and trafficking of cocaine among other charges. He pled not guilty to all 500-plus charges.
The state has dropped all but 26 charges for the trial, to which Davis pled not guilty.
Davis faces 19 counts of trafficking cocaine in the fifth degree, one count of engaging a pattern of corrupt activity in the first degree, one count of illegal manufacturing of drugs in the second degree, three counts of trafficking cocaine in the first degree and one count of aggravated trafficking of drugs in the third degree.
Thirty-two Clinton County residents were called for jury selection Tuesday, and 11 men and one woman, all white, were chosen. Davis is African-American. Two women, also white, were chosen as alternates.
Representing Davis is John Kaspar, and representing the state are Brian Shidaker, Andrew McCoy and Matt Sullentrop.
“I want to thank you all for being here,” McCoy said to the jurors in his opening statement. “It’s your job to pass judgment on the facts … and listen to the testimony, study the evidence (and) draw reasonable inferences from that evidence.”
The opening statements, said Clinton County Court of Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck, are “like a preview” of the trial that is to come.
“On at least 24 different occasions, the defendant illegally trafficked in crack cocaine, methamphetamine and powder cocaine by selling or offering to sell crack cocaine or transporting the same, knowing it was going to be sold,” McCoy said. “He was in it for financial gain.”
The FBI, the Greater Warren County Drug and Task Force and the Wilmington Police Department were all involved in the investigation, McCoy said, and the jury will hear testimonies from some of those individuals involved in the investigation.
Kaspar reaffirmed Rudduck’s statement that the opening statements are much like a preview to a movie and that everyone involved in this trial – Davis, witnesses, and law enforcement – are characters in said movie.
“What the state wants you to do is consider this case, the trial that we’re having, and they want to present evidence and facts that will lead you to believe Mr. Davis is the Godfather and Scarface … essentially that he is charged with charges that make him sound like he’s the kingpin,” Kaspar said.
Kaspar said the role of the jurors is to decide if the “narrative” the state presents is true.
“You and you alone will watch and give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down,” he said. “Your tools as critics in this case are the … rights of Mr. Davis and the Constitution. It’s the state’s burden … to prove him guilty by proof beyond a reasonable doubt in respect to each and every element of the offenses for which he’s charged.”
The trial continues Wednesday.
Reach Dylanne Petros at 937-382-2574, ext. 2514, or on Twitter @Dylanne Petros.