KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Pvt. Terrance Norman and Sgt. Rodney Howell each punched Sgt. Juwan Johnson 20 or more times in the face, chest and back during a July 3, 2005, initiation into the Gangster Disciples in which Johnson suffered more than 200 blows in six minutes, a witness testified Tuesday.

Pfc. Latisha Ellis, who attended the “jumping in” ceremony, provided details on Johnson’s beating and details about the activities and structure of the Gangster Disciples in Kaiserslautern. Johnson, 25, of the 66th Transportation Company, died from multiple blunt-force injuries on July 4, 2005.

Ellis’ testimony came during the second day of a joint Article 32 hearing for Norman and Howell, who face several charges in Johnson’s death, including involuntary manslaughter.

A group of nine people — composed of soldiers, airmen and a civilian — pummeled Johnson for six minutes July 3 at an outdoor pavilion near Hohenecken. Ellis, who reached a deal with prosecutors in exchange for her testimony, described the gang members attacking Johnson “like a pack of wolves on a piece of meat.”

Rico Williams, a former airman and head bouncer at Black Sounds nightclub in Landstuhl, was the self-proclaimed “governor” of the Gangster Disciples in Kaiserslautern. Williams began the “jumping in” ceremony around 9 p.m. on July 3 by asking Johnson if this is what he wanted, Ellis said. Williams stood directly in front of Johnson with eight others encircling the two.

Johnson replied “Hell, yeah,” at which point Williams punched Johnson in the face so hard that Johnson was knocked out for 30 seconds, Ellis testified. Johnson was helped up, and Williams asked him again if this was what he wanted. Johnson said “yes,” and Williams punched him in the face again, knocking Johnson down a second time, Ellis said.

When Johnson got back on his feet, the others began their assault, Ellis said. In addition to Williams, the others who beat Johnson were Howell, Norman, Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicolas Sims, Air Force Senior Airman Jerome Jones, Army Pfc. Arthur Newell, Army Pfc. Michael Duncan, Army Spc. Bobby Morrissette and Army Staff Sgt. Alre Hudson, Ellis testified.

The timekeeper for the event was Air Force Tech. Sgt. T. Saraglou, who just watched along with Ellis, she said.

Only Morrissette, Ellis, Norman and Howell have faced legal action in the case to date. Williams left Germany a few days after Johnson died, officials have said, and has not been located.

During the beating, Johnson went in and out of consciousness. Some of the men would take turns holding up Johnson while the others beat his chest, Ellis said. Then, they flipped Johnson over to strike his back, she said.

“They took turns holding him up,” Ellis said. “I’m pretty sure everybody got their fair share.”

Williams also kicked Johnson in the chest about a dozen times, Ellis said. It was the only time Johnson was kicked and the only time Johnson attempted to block any blows, Ellis said.

“(Johnson) was grunting a lot,” she said. “You could tell he was gasping for air.”

At no point did Johnson tell the others to stop, Ellis said during cross-examination. Ellis will be put into the witness protection program as part of her plea deal.

After the six minutes, Johnson was given a group hug and told he was in the gang, Ellis said. Johnson’s speech was slurred, and he lost bowel control, she said. Ellis said she offered to take Johnson to the hospital, but Johnson declined, saying he was “good.”

Ellis testified that she was recruited to join the Gangster Disciples by Williams, but she never joined the gang.

Ellis, who was assigned to the Warrior Preparation Center near Kaiserslautern from July 2003 to July 2005, was hired by Williams to be a bouncer at Black Sounds after he witnessed her fighting prowess at the club.

Also on Tuesday, Ellis provided insight to the Gangster Disciples in Kaiserslautern.

The gang had a rank structure with Williams at the top. Some of the members received tattoos with Gangster Disciple symbols such as a six-pointed star.

The gang of between 10 and 15 people held meetings, collected dues and had members submit personal and family contact information.

The gang even had T-shirts made.

Despite being labeled as a gang, the group did not engage in criminal enterprise, Ellis said.

They mainly gathered at cookouts and dinners.

“They just hung around each other all the time,” Ellis said. “They kind of became a family.”

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