Brandon “Stacks” Soto, a Casanova associate, was one of 18 members of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation charged with racketeering in December. But, unlike Casanova, who is still in prison awaiting trial and faces the death sentence, Soto is said to be a contender for the death penalty.
Prosecutors say Soto was involved in the murder of 15-year-old Jalani Jones in September 2020, according to AllHipHop. Investigators were able to obtain communications from Soto’s Instagram account and smartphones that revealed his role in the murder plan.
Soto is also suspected of transporting the shooter to Poughkeepsie, New York. On the same night Jones was slain, his vehicle was captured on security footage dropping off the gunman before going to Brooklyn.
Officers found the car and impounded it, but members of the Gorilla Stone gang reportedly took it and lit it on fire in an isolated area of Manhattan.
Kenneth Montgomery, a public defender who is also representing Ronald “Tinard” Washington, one of the men accused of killing Run-DMC icon Jam Master Jay in October 2002, was assigned by a judge.
Casanova was arrested on several RICO charges in November 2020. In January, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Davison ruled that Casanova would have to remain in custody until his trial, stating that while the defense had made a “formidable” case for his release on $2.5 million bond, he was worried about the threat Casanova presents to the community.
“When you go back to the history and characteristics of this defense … this is a defendant who has, over the last decade, managed to rack up three serious violent felony convictions,” Davison said. “It is quite reasonable to infer that people who cross (Casanova) get hurt.”
Casanova’s lawyer, James Kousouros, is certain that his client will be acquitted completely. He argues that prosecutors have presented no evidence to support the charges against Casanova, and that images of firearms found on Casanova’s phones were fake weapons meant to promote the song “Gripped Up.”
We say the government is providing the court with photos of weapons that are promotional photographs,” Kousouros said. “(Casanova’s) appearances are very public, they’re photographed. You never see him with a weapon.”
Jelani Jones will not be able to witness his shooter’s trial. The 15-year-old was brought to Vassar Brothers Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the head, but he died there. There has been no explanation offered.