Cornell, 15, began to cry. "April Fool," Robinson said. "Wipe your eyes." Martinez had overheard as he walked up: "I ain't going to bite my f- ing tongue for nobody," he said. "I killed him."
According to court testimony yesterday, Martinez wasn't joking.
That brutal exchange was described in detail yesterday during the second day of a preliminary hearing for Martinez, Robinson and Mark Christian, 27, three members of a drug gang who are charged with the slayings of the Williams brothers in March.
At the end of the hearing, Municipal Court Judge Michael J. Conroy ordered the three suspects held without bail on murder, kidnapping and other charges related to the slayings. They are being tried as adults.
The Williams boys and a friend, Joseph Jones, 13, were abducted March 12 after they lost $500 worth of crack, the cocaine derivative the brothers had been given to sell by the gang, according to police and testimony.
Anthony Williams was shot March 15 and died March 16. Cornell Williams and Joseph Jones were taken out to be killed March 18.
Jones - who testified yesterday about the "April Fool" conversation - bolted from his captors and escaped. Cornell, though, was shot twice in the head and killed.
The hearing yesterday and Wednesday in City Hall was marked by unusual measures to calm the fears of teenage witnesses who faced the three defendants across the courtroom.
The first witness on Wednesday, Mark Lee, 14, who said he had also sold drugs for the gang, was "terrified," said Assistant District Attorney Charles J. Grant. Lee seemed so agitated that Grant told him he could close his eyes as he tried to recall events on the witness stand.
At one point Wednesday, the judge told Lee: "I can assure you. I will attempt to protect you from any harm with my own life."
Later, when Jones, the boy who escaped from the killers, took the stand, the two stern-looking homicide detectives who led the investigation accompanied him. One, Detective Michael Duffy, sat in a chair about three feet away as Jones testified. The other, Detective Joseph Walsh, sat in the first row of spectator seats.
Grant, the assistant district attorney, said Jones was a "somewhat reluctant" witness and had become "accustomed" to the detectives. Judge Conroy had Jones turn his chair sideways when he testified so that he faced the judge and away from those in the courtroom.
Jones said the Williams brothers took $500 worth of crack with them when they left the crack house where they had been instructed to work and that it quickly dwindled after they reached their homes in the Martin Luther King Plaza public housing project in South Philadelphia.
The Williams boys' mother, Anita, took $100 worth and sold it, Jones testified. Eighty dollars' worth was stolen from the brothers by toughs in the project, who made them strip off their pants while they searched them, Jones said. He said he did not know what happened to the rest.
When the three boys returned empty handed to settle up with the drug dealers, Jones said, they told them that they had been arrested and that the police had seized the drugs.
The dealers didn't believe them, and the three boys were taken to a North Philadelphia drug house to work off their debt. There, Jones said, the boys were given crack and a book in which to record transactions.
They dined on Chinese food and breakfast cereal, which they were taken to the store each morning to buy, Jones testified.
And he said they were threatened with torture and death if they lost any more drugs.
Lee, in his testimony Wednesday, told of hearing the gang members issue instructions when the Williams boys first started selling drugs for them about 10 days before the killings. The final rule was: "Don't come up short . . . If you come up short, we're going to hurt you."