Tattoos take center stage in ‘Lake Boyz’ court hearing


FORT MYERS, Fla. Tattoos and what constitutes a gang were at the center of arguments made Wednesday before the judge in the trial of one of more than 20 people arrested in January as part of a two-year police operation.

Gerry Olivo, the attorney for 21-year-old “Lake Boyz” defendant Jonathan Griffin, is also planning to ask 20th District Court Judge Bruce Kyle if he can resubmit the subpoenas of about a dozen city leaders that Kyle tossed out last week.

The state is asking that suspected Lake Boyz gang members show their tattoos to the jury, arguing that those tattoos are gang markers. But Olivo argues the tattoos shouldn’t be used as evidence.

“They haven’t presented any testimony to you today that would provide the court with the information that they need to establish that these tattoos are, in fact, relevant,” Olivo said.

David Brener, the lawyer for another accused Lake Boyz member, believes it would impinge on the presumption of innocence for his client and imply that he’s “guilty and dangerous.”

“Bringing someone into the courtroom, having them remove clothing, while shackled, display a tattoo and then leave, it just doesn’t sit right,” Brener said.

Brener, who represents 39-year-old Jovan Duncan, insists the state must prove with evidence that the Lake Boyz are a gang, that Duncan was a member of the gang and that his tattoo is a gang symbol.

“There’s been no evidence to date, at least concerning my client, that this is a gang, that he’s a member of the gang, that he’s ever been a member of the gang,” Brener said.

Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott referred to the Lake Boyz as a gang in 2015, and Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs, when he announced the January arrests, cited 400 charges and 200 convictions that date back to the 1990s.

“The state believes there will be evidence that this gang is a neighborhood gang that started in the Harlem Lakes area,” prosecutor Bob Lee said Wednesday.

Formal trial dates for Griffin and Duncan have not been set. Pretrial hearings will resume Monday, when the judge is expected to decide whether the subpoenas of Diggs, Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson and other high-profile figures may be resubmitted.


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