NAPLES — From inside his Collier County jail cell, accused killer Rodsheek Williams tried to stack the deck in his favor.
He issued written orders through letters, investigators allege: telling his co-defendant he’d be killed if he cooperated with prosecutors, and telling witnesses to disappear or forget what they saw. And he told fellow One Tre gang members: please send marijuana, cocaine and Xanax to him in jail, investigators say.
Jail staff members said they found the letters in a cell before they got into the addressees’ hands.
“This was a good catch to find something like this ... had it developed, who knows what the results would have been,” said Sgt. Ron Byington, who heads the Sheriff’s Office street gang unit and is familiar with Williams’ newest charges, which were filed in mid-February.
Detained since 2008 on a premeditated murder charge, Williams faces new felony allegations in court Monday, when he is arraigned on recently filed counts of conspiracy, witness-tampering and directing gang activity.
Naples police allege the now 25-year-old was the trigger man in the robbery and fatal shooting of Jacques Lamothe in the city’s River Park neighborhood in October 2008. A trial hasn’t been held yet in that case.
The written death threats in at least one letter found during the May 2012 raid on another inmate’s cell at the East Naples jail were directed at accused accomplice Howard Lee Brice, who a month earlier had accepted a 13-year prison sentence in exchange for testifying at Williams’ eventual trial, court records show.
Williams, a documented gang member from Naples, tried to get the letters sent out of the jail through another inmate, Gage Pate, who was affiliated with that gang, court records show.
Familiar with his handwriting from the many complaints he filed against law enforcement — 115 pages in two years jail staff recognized Williams’ left-sloping penmanship when they raided Pate’s cell, investigators said.
DNA tests run on the envelope flaps link Pate and Williams to the letters, according to court documents.
Byington of the Sheriff’s Office explained that closely-watched inmates, like Williams, feel their correspondence may be subject to more intense scrutiny by jail staff. Consequently, if another inmate sends the mail out, they feel it might pass by jailers undetected.
At the time, Pate, now 21, was in jail accused of failing to appear in court to face a misdemeanor charge of affray. He now faces felony charges of witness tampering and conspiracy.
Court records show Williams’ letters also asked fellow gang members to threaten two witnesses in a case against his cellmate, Adonis Vasquez.
Vasquez is charged with second-degree murder in the November 2008 stabbing death of Jessie Van Davis in East Naples.
Davis’ friend, a witness to the altercation between him and Vazquez in an apartment complex parking lot, was one of the men Williams directed One Tre gang members to threaten so he wouldn’t testify in Vasquez’s trial, which is scheduled for September, court records show.
Vasquez’s fingerprints were found on some of the letters, a sheriff’s affidavit noted.
Like Pate and Williams, the 23-year-old Vasquez now faces felony charges of witness tampering and conspiracy.
The court documents don’t detail how Pate and Vasquez allegedly became involved in the conspiracy.
Despite the tone of Williams’ orders in letters to his gang members, a Naples-based group that is one of about 20 area gangs as defined by Florida statute, he isn’t the kingpin, according to Byington.
The gang he is affiliated with is known as One Tre, which stands for 13th Street North in Naples, around where the gang was centered in the Gordon River neighborhood, court records show.
The talk in the letters of uniting gangs, commandeering the local drug market and running “all the businesses” isn’t in Williams’ purview, Byington said.
There’s also no elaboration on why he wants to “(Expletive) the (Naples) City Council” in one letter, according to the Sheriff’s Office affidavit.
“He’s trying to exert his control, (but) I don’t think he has the power or the leadership to pull it off,” the sergeant said. “But in his mind he apparently does.”
The witness tampering charges in this case can carry a life-in-prison sentence upon conviction, according to State Attorney’s Office documents.
The three men are scheduled to be arraigned in Collier Circuit Judge Ramiro Manalich’s courtroom Monday.