Friday, September 28, 2012

Judgment of 'People of the State...' swift, sure

Map of 705 Harlem Ave., 806 Lenox(click here)

Waco – Don Patterson has the matter of fact delivery and blunt affect of a professional harness bull on the witness stand. He bites off, chews and delivers each word - with precision.

He is the Investigator In Charge of the Waco Police Department's drug enforcement unit, and has a lot of experience with dope houses and the people who run them. It's a deadly serious business.

As the lead witness in 'People v. Ulis Howard Alexander,' he bluntly told jurors that 705 Harlem Avenue is the kind of place run for “the cartels” by a sophistica
ted network of lookouts, enforcers, guards, men who take the money, and men who hand off the drugs.

Using that system, “one person would not be holding everything.”

As the youthful prosecutor, Mr. Luce, said in framing a question, “Nobody wants to be the next guy...”

The cartels, it's understood, are illicit combinations run by Mexican drug lords for multibillion-dollar profits, men who peddle the kind of dope that will blow a person's perceptions to the four winds, shatter their minds, and render them helpless to fight their cravings. Jails, institutions and death follow close behind. Always. Every time. Without fail. Believe it.

It's understood. In fact, it's the only thing that is guaranteed, other than the tremendous, tax free profits for the men who control the trade from afar, beyond international borders.

Recalling a series of drug raids that took place in the fall of 2010 and the early spring of 2011, at the little frame house with Permastone facing, and across the street at another “trap house,” 708 Harlem Avenue, he explained, “That location used to be notorious for drugs...It was difficult to get in there with squad cars.”

It's so difficult, in fact, that the men of the drug squad used a city bus to drive into the north Waco neighborhood, breezed past lookouts and spotters standing on street corners with cell phones to signal “5-0” was coming, and rush upon the house with a SWAT team to get through the front door “as quickly as possible.”

Sgt. Allovio testified that “They had various ways of filtering people in there.”

There is no direct route to the 700 block of Harlem Avenue. The street dead ends into Dallas Street on one end and J.J. Flewellen Rd. on the other. From the front door of 705 Harlem to the premises of the Future Minds Day Care Center at 809 Lenox, it is exactly 960 feet.

Anyone who chooses to visit the 700 block must take a circuitous, zig-zagging route to do so, drive past young men stationed at watch points, and then get clearance from lookouts on the curb who look to a window with a slattern bamboo blind emblazoned with a tropical scene of palms on a coral atoll. There, a chief watchman passes on who can get to the front door to hand off money and pick up drugs.

Quite simply, the men who run the drug house dominate an area that covers many square blocks, thus occupying a residential neighborhood where people go about their business of living, raising their kids, relaxing between work shifts – all the activities in the key of life.

Asked why there are numerous confidential complaints on drug houses and why the drug enforcement unit takes an “extremely proactive” approach to their work, Investigator Patterson did not hesitate to say, “It's a quality of life issue.”

The true nature and quality of the issue hit jurors with full force as the prosecution played video files from a camcorder seized at the time of the raid on 705 Harlem.

As the first unspooled, a middle-aged woman wearing a turban, staggeringly loaded on some kind of intoxicant, is seen loudly confronting a lookout at the curb in front of the shabby little house. She says she will call the police if they don't cool it as the lookouts close ranks and deny her access to the property.

Asked what was going on in the video, Sgt. Allovio said, “There was a disturbance. He said he should hit her before she left for threatening to call the police. A man is heard telling her, “You've got to master your high and grow up.” Ulis Alexander, the 20-year-old defendant, is seen blocking her access to the door of the house.

In the next video clip, a group of men stand just inside the front door, arguing loudly as pounding music thunders in the background.

When asked, Sgt. Allovio said, “They're having an argument, a disagreement because he is not doing what he's supposed to do in the organization.”

As the tape is stopped and started, the frames frozen, one man is seen taking the currency, the other handing off the drugs.

A man is heard protesting, saying, “You're clean-up man. You're the watch-out man...Who pays the rent here? We do, man. This is OUR house!”

The camera zooms in on the face of Ulis Alexander, then freezes on his youthful grin. He is holding nothing in his hands.

Everyone appears to be totally ripped to the tits. It's quite obviously party time at 705 Harlem, though there is an undertone of steely resolve, a professional attitude of the teamwork displayed by young men on a mission, the kind of situation that can explode into bloody violence at any moment if not tightly controlled.

Mr. Luce asks Sgt. Allovio, “Do you often find a camcorder at the scene of a raid on a drug house?”

The sergeant paused, arched his eyebrows, pursed his lips, then quietly mouthed the word, “No,” with just a trace of an ironic smile.

The camcorder was just part of the evidence seized at the time of the raid. Sgt. Allovio has examined and described a bag of six cell phones, various digital scales, a Pyrex measuring cup used to form the “cookies” of crack after they have cooked powder cocaine in a pan with baking soda and water, baggies, photos of people who work at the house and some of the customers, and – almost as an afterthought – two nasty-looking little semi-automatic pistols, one black and the other a dull silver color, a 9 mm and .380 caliber manufactured cheaply and sold at low cost for express purpose of shooting another human being. Think Peter Lorre lisping his way through a threatening phrase in an old black and white movie, a little black automatic leveled at his interlocutor's gut.

In the light of the quiet courtoom, tagged, bagged and admitted into evidence, they look almost like pieces of filthy medical equipment following some odious surgical procedure, or tools left carelessly astray by some negligent workman.

The tagged, bagged fourteen grams of crack cocaine officers found hastily dumped in the crawlspace under the house was passed from hand to hand by jurors. The men, who are wearing the ordinary garb of the working class - jeans and snap button shirts, pullover polos with collars - are very interested. They peer into the baggie, manipulating the plastic in various ways to get a closer look.

Predictably, the women handle it by grasping it between thumb and forefinger, as if passing a dead rat by its tail, their eyes averted.

They didn't take long to make the finding that Ulis Howard Alexander, who was only 19 at the time, had possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver it within 1,000 feet of a school, playground or day care center, as defined by the Texas Health and Safety Code. It's an enhancement to the offense that can net an offender a life sentence or a term in the penitentiary of not less than 5 years or more than 99.

During the punishment phase of the trial, they learned that a cousin named Chance Alexander was arrested for the same type of offense six months earlier, across the street at 708 Harlem Ave., in the same kind of shabby little house where no one lives, for possession of marijuana with an intent to deliver it within...etc.

At the time, photographic evidence showed, Ulis Howard Alexander was handcuffed hand and foot, his face averted from the dirt of the back yard of 705 Harlem as he lay on his stomach, hog-tied. He was not charged.

They learned that his older brother Gary Wayne Alexander had been previously sentenced to 40 years in the penitentiary for the same offense for which the pair were arrested on that day in May of 2011 at 705 Harlem.

They also learned that during the interim between his arrest for the cocaine charge they were in trial to settle with their verdict, he managed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor marijuana charges in a county court and a count of evading arrest by motor vehicle, crimes for which he served less than 6 months.

They sentenced him to 10 years in the penitentiary and ordered him to pay a fine of $10,000.

The prosecutor Gabrielle Massey, a radiantly tanned young lady of tall stature and elegant carriage – think Greta Garbo without the picture hat - dressed in a form-fitting black business suit and spike heels, said, “He's had his second chance...This isn't a victimless crime. His family are victims. He made them victims...It's the same house, run by the same people. The same people are there.”

She told jurors that for many years, the public has believed “There's nothing we can do about it. Today, you are the something that can be done about it.”

When Judge Matt Johnson read the jury's verdict, which eschewed the notion of rehabilitation, a second chance, community supervision, psychological counseling – or any other half measure short of the punishment of retribution for a series of bad acts against the peace and dignity of The People of the State of Texas, a small look of triumph lit her abnormally luminous and expressive eyes.

For a moment, like Sgt. Allovio, a small smile played around her lips, and she stood up a little taller - and a lot straighter.
This is an installment in a 6-part series on the criminal courts of McLennan County: A week of reporting on jury selection, prosecution and jurors' deliberations has convinced The Legendary that if the people bring the cases before the Courts, justice will be dispensed. One may read by clicking the links below. - The Legendary

"Peremptory strike of black woman was for cause..."

"The kind of house where people sell drugs..."

"Mad mouse dash to evade arrest..."

"Molesting little girls nets man 7 life terms..."

"Accused child rapist to resume questioning victims..."


  1. Sounds like drugs are a big problem in Waco. All Woodway PD has to worry about is a bigamy charge.

  2. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

  3. This ulis Alexander u so dumb n sorry that when they came to Dis house the stuff was found outside under the house poss is 9 tenths of da laws we nevs knew the drugs were there