Last night a jury in Sanford, Florida found Robert “Willy” Eckert guilty of two counts of manslaughter with possession of a firearm, one count of attempted second-degree murder with possession and discharge of a firearm and one count of attempted voluntary manslaughter.
Under Florida law, Eckert faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison for the murder conviction and 111 months in prison for the manslaughter convictions. He will be sentenced Monday by Judge Jessica Recksiedler at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
Eckert was the third defendant to be tried in a bizarre case that began with a gun battle between members of two separate and distinct Warlocks Motorcycle Clubs. Eckert’s club was rooted in Philadelphia and he and his club brothers wore a back patch on their cuts that depicted a harpy. In classical mythology, harpies were monsters with the faces of women and the bodies of birds. The victims in the case were all members of a club with a mother chapter in Orlando. Those bikers wore a back patch that depicts a phoenix – another mythological creature that dies in flames and is reborn from the ashes of its former life. The Phoenix Warlocks began in 1967. Harpy Warlocks maintain their club began two years earlier.
The case iwas made even more bizarre because the harpy Warlocks are broken into two factions with both groups claiming the right to manufacture and distribute that club’s insignia. Eckert’s patch and the patches of his fellow defendants were produced and distributed by members of the Chester, Pennsylvania chapter of the Harpy Warlocks. Other Philadelphia area Warlocks have disowned and attempted to separate themselves from the Chester chapter.
When What Where
Eckert was convicted of murders that occurred when five members of the Phoenix Warlocks rode into the parking lot of a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Winter Springs, Florida on September 30, 2012. The dead men were Harold “Lil Dave” Liddle, Peter “Hormone” Schlette and Dave “Dresser” Jakiela. Brad Dyess and Ronnie “Whiteboy” Mitchell were wounded after a Harpy Warlock named Paul Wayne Smith shot Schlette in the arm and the face. Another Harpy Warlock named Victor Manuel “Pancho” Amaro fired the shots that killed Liddle and Jakiela. None of those three men were carrying guns. The two men who were wounded were both carrying pistols. They found cover and returned fire.
Eckert and a fourth defendant named David “Tin Man” Maloney engaged Mitchell and Dyess. Maloney was the president of the local Harpy Warlocks chapter. He was a former Phoenix Warlocks chapter president and he had been expelled from his old club. In 2011 Maloney shot and wounded a member of his old club outside Jonny Rotton’s Bar Out Back in Sanford, Florida. He told police he acted in self defense and he was not charged in that shooting.
All four of the Harpy Warlocks defendants claimed they acted in self defense.
In the September 30, 2012 shootout Maloney fired two shots that both apparently missed. Eckert fired three shots that all missed. Two weeks ago 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.