Trial by Liar

The snitches mumbled, stumbled, equivocated, and perjured themselves The jury found Bernard Temple -- the man prosecutors believed to be a bloodthirsty assassin for drug dealers -- not guilty of murder.

Mostly, though, Floyd Andrews blames himself. He should never have put Geter on the stand, he acknowledges. He's slowly realizing Magee was also a lousy witness. "My problem is I'm too close to it; I couldn't see it from the jury's perspective."

He's starting to think he may just be losing his ability to see which cases are worth taking to trial. "Maybe I'm just too naive and clueless to see when I'm just bashing my head up against the wall," he says.

But what's the alternative? he asks. To refuse to go to trial on the hard ones, just so he can rack up a decent batting average?

"I hate to think it's not possible to do anything about the level of violence out there," he says. "It's accepted. Kids see it."

Andrews explains why he takes bad cases to trial. He recalls a real dog of a case. A crack whore ratted out a drug dealer, and he took out a contract on her. Two other crackheads were enlisted in the effort; they persuaded the whore to go to a house, where she could provide some services and get some money for crack. The next thing she knows, she's waking up in a hospital with a bullet wound in the back of her head. She can't remember squat. She's a lousy witness. The dealer who ordered the hit wasn't there when she was shot.

Even with that minimal evidence, Andrews gets maximum sentences on all three defendants -- the two guys who did the shooting and the crack dealer who ordered the hit.

But he admits those kinds of cases are one in a million. He loses the vast majority of gang cases out of Bayview-Hunters Point. He can't think of anything at this moment that will alter that reality. "I was hoping this task force would change things, but it didn't happen," he says. "At this point what are the chances of getting anyone to talk to us?"

The question is rhetorical; the answer is so obvious, it need not be spoken aloud.

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