By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Back then, Krow was a teenager. He somehow steered clear of the John Does and other drug-dealing gangs. But he wasn't motivated to leave 15th Avenue like his older sister, Dimetria. Krow admits he was never interested in scholastic achievement. "I didn't apply myself," he says. His taste in philosophy and music is telling, though. "When I was 16, I checked out Wilson Jeremiah Moses's Classical Black Nationalism from Miami Northwestern's library," he says. "That's when I started turning militant. My favorite person is probably Malcolm X... I like listening to Jay-Z, Nas, and Wu-Tang Clan — none of that Young Jeezy for me. I mean, how many times can you rap to me about how many ounces in a kilo?"
In 1992, during his senior year at Northwestern High, he began work as a clerk at the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser's office, where he stayed five years. After losing his job in 1997, he landed in trouble. Between 1999 and 2007, he was arrested ten times on criminal charges ranging from loitering to selling small amounts of marijuana and cocaine. He was convicted seven times, though he was never in jail for an extended period of time.
His brother, Jimmy, has a similar record. According to Miami-Dade criminal court records, he was arrested seven times on unrelated misdemeanor charges of trespassing, loitering, and marijuana possession between 1999 and 2003. The State of Florida convicted him on four of those misdemeanors. He beat a felony coke possession charge in 2000. And in 2006, Jimmy received a withhold adjudication for felony possession of a concealed firearm.
"I was a knucklehead," Krow says. "But crime itself is a product of the government."
But the government didn't force him to buy and sell drugs, a reporter says.
Krow responds with words that echo those of Malcolm X during a well-known 1963 speech in which he accused whites of creating poverty by delivering drugs to Harlem. "The mere fact the city and the county have done nothing to address the socioeconomic conditions in Liberty City creates a situation where there is nothing else to do but buy and sell drugs," he says. "But in the end, people have to do for themselves. I intend on staying in my neighborhood and, hopefully, make it a little better."
Doris nods in agreement. Despite the crime rate, she has no intention of moving out. "I had white people spit on me once when I was walking through North Miami," she recalls. "I had to catch three buses at night to get to work. I like where I live. If I had the money, I'd do something for the community like feed the homeless."
Travel north on 15th Avenue, from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to 64th Street, and to the left, you'll see a row of single-story apartments that form part of a 753-unit complex. It's the oldest public housing project in Florida. Built in the 1930s for low-income African-Americans, Liberty Square was meant to relieve overcrowding in Overtown. Because some of the units were long ago painted in a brownish red-brick color, residents called it the Pork 'n' Beans, a nickname that has stuck for more than a half-century.
The Pork 'n' Beans Projects are the birthplace of Maurice Young, AKA Miami rapper Trick Daddy, who shared a Liberty Square apartment with his mother and 11 siblings. Young's onetime Slip-N-Slide Records label mate Trina (real name: Katrina Taylor) was born and raised just one block west of the Pork 'n' Beans at her grandmother's house at NW 66th Street and 15th Avenue. Young grew up fighting with other boys and slinging cocaine on 15th Avenue. Taylor, on the other hand, had a more conventional upbringing that included games of double dutch and hopscotch. She was even a majorette at Northwestern High.
It was just up the street from the Pork 'n' Beans, near Brewton's Market, where Krow walked west during the early afternoon of January 28, 2006. Suddenly, a dark-skinned young man with crucifix tattoos on his cheeks and a black ski cap on his head blocked Krow's path. Seventeen-year-old Benito Santiago, who went by the nickname Bo, stared hard at Krow.
"What the fuck are you looking at?" Bo snarled.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Krow snapped back.
(According to Krow, Bo had recently returned from New York, where his family had sent him because he was getting in too much trouble in Liberty City. "He just wasn't right in the head," Krow says.)
They exchanged a few more F-bombs before Bo walked off.
Krow walked across the dusty, unfenced front yard of a two-story, beige-and-brown apartment building. There he caught up with two old friends, high school sweethearts Grace Armstrong and Adrian Johnson. Krow told them to avoid Bo. "That boy's dangerous," he warned.
Around 4:25 p.m., Bo returned to the apartment building. He argued with the couple before an acquaintance broke up the fight.
Bo walked away, and Adrian ordered his 10-year-old daughter inside.
Ten minutes later, Bo returned clutching an AK-47. He fired a quick burst into Grace's chest. Then he calmly turned the firearm on Adrian, who died on the spot. Grace passed away later at Ryder Trauma Center.