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‘He was active in the church’

Pastor testifies for defendant accused of helping in Newport couple’s murder.

February 09, 2009|By Joseph Serna

In 2004, Wood testified, Kennedy and others “buried” their pasts by writing their old nicknames (Kennedy’s was “Crazy John”) and putting them in a waste basket at the front of the church. According to Wood’s testimony, Kennedy was already fully involved in the church by then, handing out turkeys on Thanksgiving and working with the elderly.

During cross-examination, Wood acknowledged that he knew nothing about Kennedy’s life before their meeting in 2000, nor did he know anything about the lives of gang members. Because Kennedy’s attorneys decided against calling up several other witnesses who could testify to Kennedy’s character, jurors will be left to judge him largely off Wood’s testimony and that of another longtime friend, Milton Mosley. Mosley testified that Kennedy was no longer a gang member when he was arrested and that he was a natural leader, so it doesn’t match up with prosecutors’ case that he would take orders from Deleon or anyone else.

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Prosecutors point to phone records that put Kennedy’s cell phone near the scene of the crime when the Hawkses were last seen Nov. 15, 2004, and testimony from Machain and another suspected accomplice, Myron Gardner, who told jurors Kennedy helped kill the Hawkses.

Defense attorneys said they may have Kennedy take the stand in his own defense today. Closing statements are expected by the end of the week.


JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at joseph.serna@latimes.com.

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