Gang runs Ga. prison, orders killings outside it, indictment says

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 11:23 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 13, 2023 at 11:27 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GLENNVILLE, Ga. (WTOC) - Grand jurors have indicted three people in the murder of a guard at the troubled Smith State Prison in southeast Georgia prison.

Nathan Weekes, Dennis Kraft, and Keisha Jones were indicted last week in Long County for malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault in the 2021 death of Jessica Gerling.

The indictment alleges that Weekes, Kraft and Jones were members of a gang that smuggles contraband into the Glennville prison.

The prison’s warden was fired in February after he was charged with taking bribes.

The indictment says gang members directed the killings of two other men outside the prison.

One was an 88-year-old Glennville man who officials say was killed by mistake.

Another victim was Jessica Gerling, who was killed at a mobile home park in Long County in June 2021.

The indictment contains new details connecting her murder to others in the area, saying they all happened on the orders of one man who was already in prison.

The indictment begins to paint a bigger picture, establishing Gerling’s death as part of a pattern of violence and crime by a group that says it runs Smith State Prison.

The indictment establishes Weekes, Kraft, and Jones as members of the “Yves Saint Laurent Squad” – which according to the document, is a group that profits from smuggling contraband into Smith State Prison and uses violence to do it.

Weekes, who entered Smith State Prison in 2019, is listed as the president of the group and has even claimed that “it is his prison.”

The document says Gerling, the murder victim, was the “first lady” of the group. She worked as a corrections officer at Smith State Prison while carrying on a romantic relationship with Weekes, and was eventually fired in June 2020 for smuggling marijuana for the gang to sell to inmates.

She was facing charges for this, but Weekes and Jones recruited Kraft to help them kill Gerling on June 28, 2021, in Long County, according to the indictment.

Kraft was arrested and charged this January for his involvement in Gerling’s death. This indictment is the first time Weekes and Jones have been connected to the murder, both were already in custody for different crimes when Kraft was arrested.

The document also says the group has a pattern of bribing and coercing corrections officers. It says inmates offer guards money to bring in contraband. When that doesn’t work, they use violence.

Making things more difficult for law enforcement to control the prison, the indictment says the gang recruits people on the outside to apply for corrections jobs, creating a “whack-a-mole” of investigations into dirty guards.

While this indictment is about Gerling’s death, it connects other murders to the squad.

This includes the murder of Jerry Lee Davis, a Wayne County man killed in 2021 — the document states that Weekes, Gerling, and Christopher Sumlin, another member of the group, killed him.

It also connects the death of Bobby Kicklighter – which happened in January 2021 in Tattnall County — to the group. Investigators have called this a case of mistaken identity, with the intended target being a corrections officer who once lived on the same street.