"Yes, the day he got killed," Smith said. "He called me a punk in front of my daughter."
"After the little incident on the yard that day, that was like the final straw, and Blinky gave me the go-ahead," Smith said.
Aveis turned to a piece of evidence on the screen above Robert: "Govt. Exhibit 1." It was a letter signed "Blinky."
Robert had written the letter in Chino in 1982 to update a gang commissioner in San Quentin on gang activities and explain the demise of Clark. An inmate going up north had smuggled the "kite" in his rectum.
"All that could be done was done but in the last two months he had gone completely insane," Robert wrote. "Everyone did all they could to tolerate him and help him get to the streets but in the end he turned on everyone. . . ."
Robert's penmanship was tighter, more pointed than in the letters he wrote Pam. He discussed smuggling knives through metal detectors, an alliance with the Mexican Mafia, a potential war with the Crips.
In directing Smith to interpret much of the kite, Aveis came to this sentence: "Steve Barnes is in the federal protection program, as is his wife."
"Had there been any discussions about putting out hits on Steve Barnes?" Aveis asked.
"Sure. In '82, when we formed the commission, we established a policy by vote that if someone defected from the organization and told, like I'm doing here, anyone close to him would be open for taking a hit, except kids. That means they could kill my mother, my grandmother, my wife, but we wouldn't kill no kids."
Smith said they arranged for a brother who was about to be paroled to do the hit.
"We were going to hit Steve Barnes' parents. . . . This guy was telling on Griffin. He was testifying against Griffin. We wanted to put some, we wanted to show him you can't do that and get away with it."
This murder was the toughest part of the case for Robert. If the jury felt he was connected to the killing of an innocent man on the outside, he was done.
But prosecutors had damage control to do with their key witness. Smith had fabricated testimony in a quadruple murder case in Oregon. And then, at the earlier Aryan Brotherhood trial in Santa Ana, he testified that he had told the truth in Oregon. He didn't know the defense had a tape of him admitting he had lied in Oregon. Confronted, Smith had said, "You caught me."
Aveis had to lay this mess out there before the defense did. But Crain was not going to let this slip by quickly. He dragged Smith meticulously through every occasion he lied to juries just like this one here.
"Now, would you describe yourself as an honest person?" Crain asked.
"No," Smith shot back, to scattered snickers in the courtroom.
By now he had warmed up to performing like he used to on the yard in Chino. A few devil-may-care one-liners had the entire courtroom laughing out loud. At one point he admitted that a parole board would have to be drunk to let him out of prison.
"And so you were going to try to lie your way out of it with the Santa Ana jury and then realized, hey, I'm caught," Crain said.