By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
When they were flush, they'd joke about being so rich they could go to China for some egg foo yong. "When you're making money like that, you get greedy," Simmons says. As far as he was concerned, Havard was his friend. But he knew from experience that the people to look out for are the ones you trust the most.
Going to Las Vegas had seemed like a good idea, until Havard and Simmons got there and discovered they were too young to gamble in the casinos. It was the late summer or early fall of 2000. Havard would turn 18 in September; Simmons had turned 19 in July.
It was supposed to be a celebration of a major transaction. But instead of gambling with their profits, the two teen-agers had to settle for ogling the lights along the Las Vegas strip and clowning around, the bulky white kid towering over the wiry black youth. Simmons liked to mimic Havard, picking up on his North Dallas dude-speak and flipping it back at him. Havard sometimes turned the tables, coming back with Simmons' street jive. But mostly he listened and laughed at Simmons' ongoing stand-up routine.
"Man," Havard said, "you're going to be big."
Simmons enjoyed Havard's company, but his friend soured the trip a bit when he proposed they hire some hookers. "That's weak-minded, disrespecting yourself," Simmons says. He entertained himself for an hour while Havard took advantage of Nevada's legalized prostitution, and they flew back home.
Their next trip together, however, was an unqualified success. In October, Havard, now a senior at Winston, skipped school for a week while the two of them went to Cleveland, where Simmons grew up. Simmons showed Havard around The Flats, the city's historic warehouse district with its clubs and restaurants, and they rented a hotel room with two big beds.
"We were just chilling, messing with chicks," Simmons says, laughing at the memory. "I'd do all the talking. I'd hook him up." When Havard asked him what to say, Simmons would feed him a line.
At one club, Simmons chatted up two good-looking white girls. "This is Doug," Simmons said, introducing them to Havard. "He's my brother."
"You're black and he's white," one girl pointed out.
"No, really, he's my brother," Simmons insisted. Soon they were laughing. The two girls ended up in their hotel room for the night.
After the trip, Simmons and Havard were tight. Simmons was raking in more money than ever, selling not to dope fiends but to his handful of suppliers. And he was also spending more than ever, sending his mama on a cruise and giving extra money to his girlfriend. He liked being able to take care of his own.
Though he never talked about it with Simmons, at school Havard had become the big dog on campus. Co-captain of the football team. Junior National Honor Society. President of the student council, elected with the help of the free Egg McMuffins he handed out to students during the election.
His success now extended to the ladies. Havard brought two girls in prep-school uniforms to Simmons' apartment one evening. "Doug, Doug," Simmons crowed. "You got some cuties."
The more successful he was, the more brazen Havard became. He showed friends $40,000 worth of military-style guns he claimed he was holding for a hit man. He boasted that one of the weapons could take out a small building. That a hit man would entrust his guns to a kid didn't seem preposterous at all, at least when the kid was Doug Havard.
In February 2001, about seven months after they'd started doing business together, Simmons got a call from Havard that let him know the story he'd told about robbing some "dude" at gunpoint might be more than talk.
It was the middle of Havard's senior year at Winston. Havard and his fellow students were making plans to attend the senior prom and graduation, getting return envelopes from colleges. With an SAT score some say was close to 1,500, the teen-ager talked of going to Harvard.
But his arrogance was growing along with the academic success. Havard was about to cross the line from rich-boy scammer to violent thug.
Simmons, on the other hand, was getting tired of the criminal life even as his partnership with Havard flourished. He signed up to take a test to get into Richland Community College and enrolled in acting school. Then in January, a black drug dealer everybody called Peewee sold them some fake Ecstasy, stinging Simmons, Havard and Castelon each for more than $10,000.
On February 1, during a shopping trip, Simmons and Havard talked about what they should do. Havard insisted they confront the guy and get their money back. Though he was hotheaded, Simmons didn't like taking unnecessary chances. Peewee was known to have a fondness for assault rifles.
Havard, as always, researched the matter, finding out Peewee lived in a condo on Custer Road in Richardson. The next morning, Simmons had to make a court appearance. As he rode the train home, Havard called. Overnight, Havard had worked himself into a froth about the rip-off. "We gotta go get our money back," he told Simmons. "It's a matter of respect."