Longform

Liberty City's 15th Avenue: Nine murders, Trina, Trick Daddy, and the Liberty City Seven

Page 5 of 6


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.

Homicide detectives, whose work on the case was documented in Season 4 of the documentary TV show The First 48, apprehended Bo two days later in Overtown. The dead couple's 10-year-old identified him. She had seen her parents mowed down from the living room window.

"I lost two of my closest friends over a stupid fight," Krow laments. "Out here, poverty, pride, and ego is a volatile mix."

Following his friends' funerals, Krow had no run-ins with the law for close to 15 months. He heard, though, about the events of April 29, 2007, when Miami Police officers responded to a call in the alley near the same building where Grace and Adrian had died. There the cops found an 18-year-old teenager named John Thomas lying face down and bleeding profusely. He had been shot 15 times with a high-caliber assault rifle. The shooter fired 12 of the bullets while standing over Thomas's body.

"They mutilated that boy," Krow recollects. "The cops turned him over and all his innards fell out. You can still see the craters the bullets made in the alley." Krow didn't know homicide detectives had zeroed in on him as a suspect. An eyewitness, Anthony Greer, told investigators the ski-masked shooter who had killed Thomas was Krow. Greer, who has an extensive criminal record, claimed he was hiding in some bushes when he saw Krow, who was toting an AK-47 type of weapon, pull off the mask.

Krow vehemently denied involvement. "Those cops didn't care who really committed the murder," he seethes. "They just wanted to find a suspect to pin it on and close the case."

Krow was arrested on a first-degree murder charge May 8, 2007. His bond was set at $50,000. He spent three and a half months in Dade County Jail. "While I was inside, I saw Bo," Krow says. "How ironic is that?"

When his parents came up with the $5,000 (the 10 percent needed to pay a bail bondsman), Krow was placed under house arrest. "It was a terrible time for all of us," his mom, Doris, says. "We went through hell for an entire year."

Prosecutors dropped the case after Krow passed a polygraph test. "My lawyer Matlocked those detectives in court," Krow says proudly. "I told them I didn't do it."

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.