Witness recounts testimony

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 1, 2001


Friday, June 01, 2001

HASTINGS, Minn. – A witness testifying against three St. Paul men charged with last summer’s killings at an Austin motel recounted a substantial amount of her previous testimony Thursday, risking perjury charges.

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Janet Hall, 20, of Minneapolis, was with the defendants and three other women at the Downtown Motel the night of the killings, she said. She was held in the Mower County Jail for more than two months before attorneys dropped charges that she helped in the incident.

Hall, now seven months pregnant, is defendants’ David and Scott Christian’s half-sister and has known defendant Vernon Powers since childhood, she told the court.

Last year, testifying before a grand jury, Hall said she saw Powers and Scott Christian get guns from Powers’ Dodge Durango before the robbery, saw the masks they wore, and saw them throw items out the car window after the killings, prosecutor Pete Orput said.

But in a Dakota County courtroom Thursday, Hall said she didn’t know about the robbery until after it was over.

"I don’t know what they were doing cause I never saw any guns, masks, nothing," she said. "I just heard a shot."

Hall became visibly upset with the prosecution, raising her voice and denying her testimony before the grand jury. She said she had never seen any of the defendants with guns, and that David Christian didn’t know about the robbery either.

"If I said it, I wasn’t telling the truth," Hall said. "I feel like I was threatened, and I feel like you made me say something that wasn’t true, you and your friends … and somebody’s knocking on my door saying they want to take me back to jail because I was not cooperating."

Hall played down the defendants’ role in the June 30, 2000, twin killings, but witness Tenisha Patterson corroborated what previous witnesses have said about the defendants’ roles in the slayings.

Patterson was 14 years old when she stayed in the Downtown Motel with Hall and, and wasn’t charged in connection with the killings.

Patterson told the court she went to Austin with the defendants when her then-boyfriend Powers told her they were going to get some money from some women. She didn’t go down there to dance or engage in prostitution, and expected to only be gone about five hours, she said.

All the defendants took part in a conversation planning the robbery, Patterson said. She told the court she saw Powers and Scott Christian with the weapons and masks.

She also saw Powers and Scott Christian throw a coat, wallet and handcuffs out the Durango window. Patterson said Powers was missing a shoe, which prosecutors believe was ripped off in a struggle during the robbery.

Powers, Scott Christian and David Christian, all of St. Paul, have pleaded innocent to first- and second-degree murder charges related to the June 30, 2000 shooting deaths of St. Paul roofers Juan Vincente Ramirez and Raul Pedro Guiterrez. Benjamin Moreno Hernandez was wounded in the incident.

Call Jennifer Hemmingsen at (507) 379-3438 or e-mail her at news@albertleatribune.com.