Casanova affiliate Brandon “Stacks” Soto was one of 18 members of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation who were charged with racketeering last December. But unlike Casanova, who remains behind bars awaiting trial and is facing life in prison, Soto is reportedly a candidate for the death penalty.
According to AllHipHop, prosecutors claim Soto participated in the September 2020 murder of 15-year-old Jalani Jones. Investigators recovered messages from Soto’s Instagram account and cellphones, which detailed his involvement in the murder plot.
Soto is also accused of driving the unidentified shooter to Poughkeepsie, New York. His vehicle was caught on a surveillance video dropping off the gunman before driving to Brooklyn the same night Jones was killed.
After locating the vehicle, officers put it in a police impound lot, but members of the Gorilla Stone gang allegedly stole it and set it on fire in a secluded part of Manhattan.
A judge appointed public defender Kenneth Montgomery, who’s also representing Ronald “Tinard” Washington, one of the men accused of killing Run-DMC legend Jam Master Jay in October 2002.
Casanova was arrested in November 2020 on numerous RICO charges. In January, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Davison determined he’d have to stay in jail until trial, explaining while the defense had presented a “formidable” argument for freeing him on $2.5 million bail, he was concerned about the danger Casanova poses 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.”
But Casanova’s attorney James Kousouros is confident he’ll get a full acquittal for his client. He claims prosecutors have provided no evidence to back up the allegations against Casanova and insisted photos of guns found on Casanova’s phones were fake weapons used 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 won’t have a chance to see his shooter go to trial. The 15-year-old was taken to Vassar Brothers Medical Center for a gunshot wound to the head where he was pronounced dead. No motive has been given.