Henry Means is dead, and Yves Garner pulled the trigger, defense attorney Tom Griffiths told prospective jurors Monday before Garner's murder trial got under way in Fayette Circuit Court.
But the story behind the fatal shooting of Henry "Hank" Means, 35, on the night of July 20, 2008, outside Around the Korner bar on Anniston Drive is not so simple, Griffiths said.
Garner shot Means because he was afraid that Means would have his family killed, Griffiths indicated in his opening remarks in the trial. Means' brother, David "Shorty" Means, had shot and killed Jamal Covington two months earlier, and Garner and his family had witnessed the shooting. Garner's wife, Teresa, was set to testify against David Means on July 21, 2008, Griffiths said.
Henry Means, a local leader of the Chicago-based gang Four Corner Hustlers, had been trying to get Garner and his family and others not to talk to authorities about the shooting of Covington, according to Griffiths. For Four Corner Hustlers members to do such a thing amounted to treason. But Teresa Garner was determined to tell what she knew. Henry Means tried repeatedly to get Yves Garner to make his wife shut up. Garner tried too, his attorney said.
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According to the defense, Garner had joined the Four Corner Hustlers as a youngster in Chicago. In 1997, after a friend was killed by the gang, Garner planned to tell authorities what he knew about his friend's murder. But members of the gang attacked Garner, shooting and stabbing him repeatedly. Garner hid after he got out of the hospital and never testified in the murder case. He moved on with his life and stayed away from the gang, according to his attorney. Garner married Teresa, and the couple had three children. They wound up in Lexington.
But, said Griffiths, "There's two ways you leave the Four Corner Hustlers — at age 60 or in a coffin."
On July 20, 2008, Henry Means found Garner and others hanging out together in Lexington, according to Griffiths. Means put one of Garner's friends in his car and headed for Around the Korner bar. Garner feared that this meant another person would be silenced in the case against Means' brother. Garner went to the bar to get his friend away from Means, his attorney said.
Garner knew that Means had a gun, and after Means threatened him verbally and made a reaching movement, Garner shot Means, Griffiths said.
"As Henry hit the ground he yelled, 'You're dead! You're dead!'" the attorney said. Garner didn't want Means to have a chance to make a phone call to Chicago, so he emptied his gun into Means. According to Garner, one call to Chicago, and Garner, his wife and their three children would be dead, Griffiths said.
As Garner left the scene with his friend in his vehicle, he told the friend, "All I'm asking you to do is take care of my children," Griffiths said.
Henry Means was shot multiple times in the torso and twice in the back of the head, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Dan Laren said. The gun used to shoot Means has never been found, defense and prosecution attorneys said.
Garner, now 33, was charged in Means' death in November 2008 after police stopped him for excessive tinting on the window of a vehicle he was driving. He also was cited for having no insurance. After a search of his residence, he was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. In addition to murder, he was charged with tampering with physical evidence in Means' shooting death.
In September, David "Shorty" Means was sentenced to 24 years in prison for killing Jamal Covington, 35, and injuring Covington's teenage son. Means pleaded guilty in July to murder, second-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.
Garner's trial is expected to continue for several days.