published Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Murder defendant quizzes Gang Task Force Coordinator Boyd Patterson

A man who plans to represent himself in a murder trial called the head of the local gang task force to testify that the defendant had warned the task force leader about threats to his life.

Gang Task Force Coordinator Boyd Patterson confirmed Tuesday that John Thomas "Cutthroat" Simpson, 32, questioned him during a Hamilton County Criminal Court hearing Monday.

Patterson said he testified that Simpson, a documented member of the Gangster Disciples, had contacted him earlier this year.

"Simpson contacted me, stated that a particular gang wanted to kill me," Patterson said. Simpson also alleged gang members planned to kill a police officer.

Simpson showed Patterson a letter containing the threats.

Though such information must be treated seriously, Patterson said Tuesday he doesn't have any other evidence beyond what Simpson told him.

"To me it seems as if he was attempting to get his bond lowered," Patterson said.

Simpson faces a first-degree murder charge along with three other men in the June 29, 2010, home invasion shooting death of Bernard Hughes, 46.

Criminal Court Judge Don Poole is scheduled to rule on Simpson's request for reduced bond and other motions on Nov. 27.

Jay Perry, who represents one of the co-defendants, Harold Francis Butler III, was at Monday's hearing.

Perry said he was interested in the hearing to see if Simpson had been talking with the district attorney's office staff or other people to cut some kind of deal.

He didn't lend much credence to the alleged threat against Patterson that Simpson relayed.

Perry said Simpson has offered information "repeatedly in this case, most of which turned out to be untrue."

"I think what he did, he thought that would help him," Perry said. "I think that wasn't going to help him."

Patterson said that any information about safety has to be investigated.

"Some gang members kill people. Gang members are a menace to our community," he said. "Therefore threats concerning that danger have to be investigated."

The threat Simpson relayed to him has been followed up, he said.

Patterson said the specific information does affect him personally because he visits gang areas to promote literacy, education and job training.

"And I will continue to do so," he said.

Contact staff writer Todd South at 423-757-6347 or tsouth@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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