The trial of Robert “Willy” Eckert, a patch holder in the Warlocks Motorcycle Club whose members wear a stylized harpy on their backs, began today in Courtroom 5D of the Seminole County Courthouse Sanford, Florida.
Eckert was charged with three counts of second degree murder and two counts of attempted murder after a minutes long shootout in the parking lot of a VFW Post in Winter Springs, Florida in September 2012. The five victims were all members of the Warlocks Motorcycle Club that wears a stylized phoenix patch. The dead men were Harold “Lil Dave” Liddle, Peter “Hormone” Schlette and Dave “Dresser” Jakiela. Two other men, Brad Dyess and Ronnie “Whiteboy” Mitchell, were wounded. Schlette didn’t have time to get off his motorcycle before he was shot in the arm and the face, allegedly by Harpy Warlock Paul Wayne Smith.
Two other Harpy Warlocks, David “Tin Man” Maloney and Victor Manuel “Pancho” Amaro have already endured trials.
Maloney was acquitted of the three murder charges and one of the attempted murder counts. A jury could not decide whether Maloney tried to murder Mitchell and Judge Marlene Alva declared a mistrial on that count. Prosecutors have been obtuse about whether they intend to retry Maloney for trying to kill Mitchell but Maloney will probably be back in court May 14. He is now free on a $50,000 bond.
Prosecutors have claimed that forensic evidence indicates Amaro fired the shots that killed Jakiela and Liddle. Nevertheless, Judge Jessica Recksiedler declared a mistrial after four days of arguments and testimony in Amaro’s case last week after a prosecutor made a procedural error that jeopardized Amaro’s presumption of innocence. Amaro will probably be retried but he doesn’t yet have a trial date. He remains in custody.
Both Maloney and Amaro argued that they acted in self-defense. So is Eckert. Prosecutors have alleged that Eckert fired a pistol during the gun battle but there is no evidence that he shot anybody. Given the ineptness of the prosecutors and the cogency of the defenders so far, it seems unlikely that Eckert will be convicted of anything. He is represented by a lawyer named Adam Pollack.
A month ago the remaining defendant, Smith, was scheduled for trial before Judge Recksiedler beginning May 5. Today Rene Stutzman, who is covering the case for the Orlando Sentinel, reported “It’s not clear when the fourth co-defendant, Paul Wayne Smith, 49, of Effingham, S.C., will come to trial.” It is not clear to the Aging Rebel whether she has learned that Smith is negotiating a plea deal or if she simply couldn’t be bothered to look up the fourth defendant’s trial date.
The shooters were all members of the Warlocks Motorcycle Club that has traditionally ridden, brawled and socialized within a 50-mile radius of Philadelphia. The victims were all members of the Warlocks Motorcycle Club that has deep roots in north-central Florida. The Chester, Pennsylvania chapter of the Philadelphia based Warlocks club seceded from the rest of their club in the new Millennium and it was men associated with the Chester chapter who decided to expand their club into Florida.