Imani Taymullah wonders why her son, Joshua Andrews, would do something like this.
"I love him because he's my son, but there's a point in my life when a mother has to let go."
In April 1982, when Joshua was two months old, his father, Maurice Andrews, was accused of killing two men during a jewelry store robbery in Beaumont, Texas. His son's visited him on Texas' death row until he was fatally stabbed by another death row inmate in 1995.
When Joshua was eight years old, he received 3rd-degree burns on his face after a neighbor boy threw gasoline on him and lit a match. His vocal cords were scorched. Doctors made him a new ear.
"We prayed and prayed and prayed," his mother said. "He woke up one day and said, 'Mommy, I'm hungry.' I just cried, because his voice had come back."
His mother recalls a normal boy prior to that tragedy. He was teased by other children. They called him "crispy critter" and other names and later became known as "Scarface." As a 9 year old, he tried to help his mother when her third husband chased her down a street with a butcher knife.
Joshua's juvenile arrest record in Colorado began in 1995. At age 12, Andrews was sentenced to two years' probation for a conviction in an attempted aggravated robbery in Arapahoe County.
He spent time in juvenile mental health programs and was prescribed medications "to calm him down." He fought, was involved with gangs and had a long juvenile arrest record. Even his mother turned him in to police, hoping it would straighten him out.
"I did everything I could to help him, God knows I did."
Early in 2000, Taymullah reconciled with her fourth husband and moved to Virginia, leaving her sons, Joshua , 18 and Roman Martin, 19.
A month later, Martin and his 15-year-old girlfriend, Krisunda Jeanne Temple, were shot to death in their Aurora, CO home. Temple was shot 8 times, including twice in her face. Martin was shot 8 times.
Arapahoe County prosecutors claim Joshua fought with his brother for weeks and the situation was aggravated when Roman, shot the phone jack while Joshua was on the phone. Public defenders contend the brothers were victims of a drive by shooting by a a rival gang and that a gang. Joshua's mother proclaimed his innocence during the July 2001 trial. She told the court she "prayed and looked into Joshua's eyes, and I know he did not commit this crime." In a victim impact statement she said her son was a "scapegoat" because he is "poor, black and has a criminal history. Joshua was acquitted.
"Roman was my child, too. ... He swears he did not kill Roman and Krisunda."
Jury forewoman, Sheila Hampton, said prosecutors failed to prove their case "beyond any doubt in our minds." Prosecution witnesses contradicted themselves.
"We felt like (Andrews) did it, but it couldn't be proven. It's not that the defense did a great job as much as it was prosecutors not proving it. All we needed was one or two credible witnesses. At the time, I think it was the right thing to do."
Taymullah saw Joshua on January 4, 2002 and met his friend Jamel Crawford, 22. She referred to him as a "cold man." Jamel had a criminal history. In 1997, he was convicted in the shooting death of a 20-year-old man in Virginia Beach, VA. He was scheduled to appear in court on an unrelated firearms charge. She didn't know he had killed. Joshua told his mother he was going to New York with Jamel.
"If I had known, I swear on my life I would have turned him in," she said. "I wouldn't stand for it, especially taking a life."
Joshua and Jamel were charged with the shooting deaths of a man in December 2001 and wounding four people in New York shootings. Jamel was accused of killing a man in December 2001 over a drug deal in in Prince Williams and shooting two men to death in January 2001, in Virginia. They are linked to a shooting and store robbery in Stafford, VA., two robbery/shootings in northern Virginia and the robbery of a small Spanish Queens grocery store. At one point, their fleeing vehicle slid on ice onto the yard of a transit police employee, who they shot as he came outside. They were the target of a law enforcement dragnet after were identified in the 3 Virginia homicides. They were captured after running a red light in the South Bronx.
"These are individuals who, for whatever reason, quickly developed an insatiable appetite for killing," Prince William Assistant Commonwealth Attorney James Willet, said in Virginia.
Taymullah said Joshua admitted involvement in the January 2, 2001, shootings, but not the December 2001 shooting. He claims that Jamel forced him to participate by threatening to kill him or his family.
"I told him if that was true, it was because of something he did, not something we did," Taymullah said.
Sources: Rocky Mountain News, New York Times, West Virginia Pilot
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