Thursday, January 8, 2004

Trial gives look into drug life

Execution described

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Edward O'Connor executed a drug runner in a Kenwood home three years ago, prosecutors said Wednesday, because the drug runner broke a cardinal rule: He pilfered profit due the drug lord.

O'Connor's trial offers a glimpse inside Cincinnati's drug culture - a lifestyle where death is a common punishment for betrayal.

The trial comes at a time when Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher has blamed the city's escalating homicides on the drug culture.

In opening statements, Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor David Prem likened the 2000 killing of Roberto Valedez, of San Antonio, Texas, to the movie Pulp Fiction.

"In the drug world it's not always about money," Prem said. "You don't screw over your dealer."

Peter Rosenwald, O'Connor's attorney, says his client didn't kill Valedez.

The case started, prosecutors said, with 100 pounds of marijuana that O'Connor, 47, of San Antonio, gave to Valedez to sell in Cincinnati in summer 2000. Valedez in turn found a Cincinnati man to sell the marijuana a little at time.

The money trickled in to Valedez in payments of $5,000, $7,000 or $12,000.

But instead of sending the cash to O'Connor, Valedez spent it on prostitutes, drugs for his own use or taking his children to amusement parks, prosecutors said.

"Edward O'Connor was very angry because Roberto didn't have the money to pay his source," Prem said. "Roberto couldn't say he used it for drugs, hookers and his kids, so he had to come up with an excuse."

So Valedez blamed his Cincinnati connection.

On Nov. 2, 2000, O'Connor and Valedez drove from Texas to Cincinnati to confront that man, Prem said.

Valedez knew his lies were going to be found out and the punishment was death.

"He told his son and a friend, (O'Connor) is going to kill me," Prem said.

The trip ended at the Kenwood house party Nov. 4. "Some think it's a party, others know it's more than a party - they're there to figure out who's gonna die," Prem said. "At some point, Eddie O'Connor realized Roberto is gonna die because he lied.''

Prem said witnesses will testify they saw O'Connor shoot Valedez. "Twice in the head, one in the neck and four times in the back with a .45 automatic pistol."

O'Connor and two other men placed the body in a trash bin in Walnut Hills. Then they set that on fire.

Detectives spent the last three years piecing the case together.

O'Connor, who was serving a federal prison sentence on a gun charge, was extradited to Cincinnati.


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