The Million-Dollar Jackpot

A Brooklyn dope dealer hid it in a closet. A robbery crew found it. One gangster got screwdrivered to death. Another one just got screwed.

With MacGregor gone and the door open, Gordon and Trims sprang into action: "Me and Trims get out and walk down the block. When we get close enough, we see the door open, so we walk upstairs." Trims, who had a gun, ordered the three workers to get on the floor, while Gordon approached Davis.

"I tell him to lay, get down on the floor," Gordon recalled. "He starts yelling and screaming and saying, 'It's downstairs.' " Davis tried to push past him. But the six-foot-two, 260-pound Gordon grabbed the five-foot-10, 148-pound Davis and put him in a headlock. The two started wrestling.

As Gordon described it, Trims came over and screamed, "Yo, stop, man, stop." But "the Dread," as Gordon called Davis because of his hair style, kept fighting, so Trims pistol-whipped him. Davis went to the floor, blood pouring from his head, Gordon recalled, "but he's still fighting hard, fighting hard." Trims hit him again in the head with the gun, and when Davis looked up, Trims smashed him in the face with it. Davis still kept fighting. Gordon and Trims tried to duct-tape Davis's wrists and ankles, but he kicked out and kept fighting. So, Gordon said, Trims grabbed a screwdriver and started stabbing him with it while yelling, "Chill! Chill!"

In his death throes, Davis finally stopped struggling, and the robbers taped his wrists behind his back, put a pillowcase over his head, bound it to his neck with duct tape, and wrapped a cable-TV wire around his body. Feda, standing lookout outside, told them that MacGregor was returning. She went straight downstairs to resume cleaning, but the vacuum had come unplugged. When she went upstairs to plug it back in, Gordon pressed a gun to her temple.

After ordering her onto the floor, Gordon asked MacGregor where the money was. She feigned ignorance until Gordon pointed at her moaning boyfriend and threatened, "Don't make us do to you what we did to him." She produced the keys and told them that the money was in "the bedroom with the TV in it" in their other apartment.

Gordon said Trims took the keys and set off. While nervously training the weapon on the prostrate girlfriend and workers, Gordon muttered, "Damn, I wish I had a cigarette." MacGregor told him she had a pack in her bag. While squatting on a five-gallon plastic bucket, keeping watch and smoking, Gordon realized that Davis was "breathing funny." He stubbed out his Newport in the kitchen and called Trims's cell phone. It went straight to voicemail.

Trims called him right back, and Gordon said, "Yo, dude's sounding real bad, sounding like something's wrong. We have to get outta here." Gordon said he told MacGregor to count to 20 before calling the ambulance. Then he scrambled down the stairs and fled. Another accomplice drove him to the house of the "big dude," but he was told he'd get his share later because "the money gotta be washed. The dude [Davis] put voodoo on the money. We got to clean the money first. They into that stuff."

The beating was so brutal that police initially reported to the media that Davis had been shot in the head—one newspaper story even described it as "execution-style." The holes in his head, however, were not caused by bullets but the screwdriver. Davis, who had a broken nose and partially deflated lung, wound up suffocating in the pillowcase.

The money disappeared into Brooklyn's underworld.

Immediately after the murder, Derrick Gordon and the guy who pulled the job with him talked about leaving town . But they waited it out and, after a month had passed, Gordon later told police, he thought they'd gotten away with it. He probably would have too, if not for the smoke break he took to calm his jangled nerves that chaotic morning.

Until March 31, 2006, detectives had no idea at all who killed John Davis. Then, in the time it took for a fax to be transmitted, there emerged a lead-pipe lock of a suspect: Derrick Gordon. The crime lab matched the DNA on a cigarette stubbed out in Davis's apartment to a DNA sample Gordon was forced to supply after being convicted of possessing a .40-caliber Beretta in Schenectady in 2002—Gordon's only other arrest prior to this one. On April 13, 2006, Gordon's parole officer called him in for an unscheduled meeting. When he arrived, he was met by detectives who drove him to Brooklyn's 63rd Precinct. Less than eight hours later, Gordon cracked, police say.

Fast-forward to September 10, 2007, in Kings County Supreme Court. Before the start of a hearing on the admissibility of the statements Derrick Gordon made to detectives in April 2006, the judge's clerk asked Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough how many minutes the videotape he was going to play lasted. Gough, a senior prosecutor in the homicide bureau, turned to his adversary and said, "I don't know—Barry, how long do you think it is?"

"Too long," Barry Krinsky, Gordon's lawyer, replied. The veteran defense attorney's wry assessment was borne out a short time later when the "play" button was pushed.

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