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Lured, Corrupted, and Killed: Part 3
By Megan Dillard and Scott Lawrence
Violent gangs are initiating new recruits inside prison and then turning against them on the outside.
Federal prosecutors say the groups will do just about anything to protect their power, territory, and profits from drug dealing and other organized criminal activity.
James Lee Sedtal learned just how far they'll go. He died at the hands of the white supremacy gang to which he belonged in March of 2011.
According to investigators he shot a member of a rival group and was killed, put in the trunk of a car, and burned to prevent that other gang from retaliating.
Sedtal's mother shared her story of pain and anguish to reach out to other parents and warn them of the dangers of these violent groups.
"Hell of a mother I turned out to be. Look what happened," Vivian Sedtal said.
Vivian Sedtal blames herself.
"I couldn't protect him. I'm not a good mom at all," Vivian Sedtal said.
An admission of guilt for a son killed by members of the same prison gang.
"They shot him in the head, they shoved him in a trunk for two days, then got scared and went back and set the car on fire and put it out in the middle of nowhere. My son was not a dog."
Two of the accused killers were sentenced to life. Vivian Sedtal says the justice system failed her. No phone call ever came to confront the killers in court.
When asked what she would have said if she'd been able to get into the courtroom, Vivian Sedtal replied: "My son trusted you and you did was just kill him. You murdered him. You took something from me. He was mine. He was never yours to keep."
That son began pulling away, taking the wrong path, years before his death, serving time in Burnet and Jefferson Counties.
"When there is 5,000 men locked up together, they don't act like monks," said Malcolm Bales, the United States Attorney who has prosecuted a number of high profile white supremacy cases in recent years.
Prison was where James Lee Sedtal met the Solid Wood Soldiers.
"They create a society just like they would out here. And that society, made up of mostly criminal personalities, is going to do criminal things," Bales said.
"It was like two different worlds. He didn't speak about this one, nor did he speak about this one," Vivian Sedtal said.
It was James Lee Sedtal's life as a prison gang member that led to his death, shot, killed and burned.
"And I said well, I guess you'll just have to burn him like they did. Finish the job and give him to me, then," Vivian Sedtal said.
Vivian Sedtal has what's left of her son close by, his ashes, his watch, and his letters. The letters are a link to her son on paper.
"He always ended it with I love you," Vivian Sedtal said.
There are more memories on a wall. Butterflies, her favorite creature. A symbol of transformation, something her son was unable to accomplish.
"I just don't want no other mamas to go through this," Vivian Sedtal said.
It's important to note, federal prosecutors and those who work inside prisons to prevent the violence say most of the groups target their own or members of other such organizations, and not the general public.
CLICK HERE FOR PART 1
CLICK HERE FOR PART 2