SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 19, 2013

Police: Suspect's girlfriend hid key witness

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — A Danvers woman has been charged with trying to prevent a key witness to a Lynn shooting from testifying during trial.

Allyson Cross, 23, of 70 Centre St., burst into tears as she was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail by a Salem District Court judge on charges of witness intimidation and conspiracy.

Prosecutors and police say Cross was instrumental in preventing a witness to the May 2012 shooting of a Lynn man from testifying last week during the trial of Cross’ boyfriend, Kyle Avant, and a second suspect, Terrence Johnson. Prosecutors said she played on the witness’s interest in her and let him stay with her in her mother’s home to hide from authorities.

In part because of the unavailability of the witness, prosecutors were forced to offer Avant and Johnson plea deals; Avant, 31, got a seven-to-eight-year prison term, and Johnson, 31, got two years.

Cross allegedly told the witness, whom she referred to as “Meth Mouth” in recorded conversations with Avant, that he shouldn’t testify and that his name was “all over the court” last summer. Subsequently, the witness contacted the district attorney’s office in August to say he did not want to testify.

The trial of Avant and Johnson began last week in Salem Superior Court, and prosecutors sent a notice to the witness, Bryan LeBlanc, to appear in court on Nov. 12. When LeBlanc didn’t show up, Judge Howard Whitehead issued a bench warrant for his arrest, and Lynn police began their own investigation, looking for the witness.

They used cellphone records to link him to Cross, prosecutor Lindsay Shaheen told a Salem District Court judge.

After reviewing recordings of calls between Avant, who was being held at Middleton Jail, and Cross, police from Lynn and Danvers worked together to get an arrest warrant for Cross — whom police, looking through a window, could see at one point watching television inside the house. When they knocked, the television set was turned off, and no one answered the door.

Police later listened to a jail phone call recording in which Cross described to Avant what had happened, telling him she crawled across the floor, and asking his advice. He told her not to answer the door for police, according to court papers.

The two also discussed what prosecutors would have to prove in order to convict her of witness intimidation.

“If she didn’t answer the door, so what?” asked Cross’ attorney, Leslie Salter. “She isn’t obligated to answer the door.”

Salter also questioned the strength of the case, suggesting that police are only speculating as to the identity of “Meth Mouth” and cannot prove Cross was referring to LeBlanc. (A police report indicates that in one conversation with Avant, however, Cross referred to a television documentary on methamphetamine users and compared the teeth of one of them to LeBlanc’s.)

Shaheen said Cross’ alleged actions showed “complete disregard for the court system” and described her efforts to avoid police as “blatant.”

Judge Matthew Machera agreed, holding Cross on the $10,000 bail requested by the prosecutor. Machera noted not only the seriousness of the charges but Cross’ criminal record and history of defaults.

Cross was also arrested on a disorderly conduct charge when she allegedly made a scene during Avant’s arrest at the Salem rooming house where they were living at the time.

As the bail was announced, Cross began crying, saying, “No, I didn’t do anything.”

She is due back in court next month. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison on the witness intimidation charge.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.