RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A man who authorities say was the mastermind of the kidnapping of the father of the North Carolina prosecutor who put him in prison testified at his trial that if he really wanted revenge, he would have had gang members kill the man immediately.
Kelvin Melton orchestrated the abduction in 2014 from a smuggled cellphone behind state prison walls where he is serving a life sentence on an attempted murder conviction, prosecutors said at his federal kidnapping trial that started earlier this month.
Melton, 51, testified in his own defense Friday, saying the plot that involved taking Frank Janssen to an Atlanta apartment and sending threatening texts to his family was too complex, according to WRAL-TV (http://bit.ly/1S9PDAU ).
“If I had done this for revenge, they would have handled this at the door,” Melton said.
Instead, Melton said an underling in the gang gave the order to kidnap Janssen because he wanted to move up in the gang’s leadership.
“I’ve worked too hard over the years to blow it on something that’s stupid,” said Melton, who also testified he was the godfather of the United Bloods Nation group, leading at least 10,000 gang members in North Carolina.
Janssen was rescued by FBI agents five days after he was kidnapped. Authorities said he had been pistol-whipped and shocked with a stun gun.
All nine of Melton’s co-defendants struck plea deals to avoid the death penalty or life prison sentences for earlier shootings and aborted kidnapping plots. Melton faces life in prison without parole if convicted in federal court.
Several of them have testified, saying Melton gave them instructions for every step of the kidnapping, from grabbing Janssen from his Wake Forest home to taping him to a chair in a padlocked closet of an Atlanta apartment. They also said Melton told them to kill Janssen by putting a sock in his mouth and a plastic bag over his head and then gave detailed instructions how to dispose of the body and clean up the apartment.
Before Melton testified, his lawyer called to the stand two state prison inmates who testified cellphones were shared by a number of inmates in an attempt to prove Melton wasn’t making the phone calls.
Information from: WRAL-TV, http://www.wral.com