The tragedy of Robert “Willy” Eckert found its anticlimax today when he was sentenced by Florida judge Jessica Recksiedler to live the next 27 years of his life in prison.
Eckert was a former member of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Warlocks Motorcycle Club. He was expelled from that club and moved to Florida where he was reunited with a former club brother named Edward Frederick “Chester Eddie” Glowitz. Glowitz is also known as “Nightmare One Percenter” and “John Furin.”
After the Chester, Pennsylvania chapter of the Warlocks was decertified by the mother club in 2011, Glowitz recruited members for a Florida chapter certified by the Chester chapter of the Warlocks. The new chapter wore the traditional insignia worn by Glowitz and Eckert’s old club – a patch that depicted a harpy. The new chapter had between six and ten members and at least three of those members were former members of the better known Warlocks Motorcycle Club that established its first chapter in Orlando.
The new Warlocks chapter was pugnacious and friction developed between the new chapter of the Harpy Warlocks and the big, Florida Warlocks club that wears a Phoenix patch. In a little more than a year that friction led to a shootout in the parking lot of a VFW Post in Winter Springs, Florida.
Three members of the Florida Warlocks, Harold “Lil Dave” Liddle, Peter “Hormone” Schlette and Dave “Dresser” Jakiela, were shot and killed in the incident. Two other Florida Warlocks, Brad Dyess and Ronnie “Whiteboy” Mitchell, were wounded.
Eckert and three other members of the Harpy Warlocks chapter, David “Tin Man” Maloney, Victor Manuel “Pancho” Amaro and Paul Wayne “Dog” Smith were charged with multiple counts of second degree murder and attempted murder. Maloney was acquitted of all three murder counts and one of the attempted murder counts last month. Prosecutors have not yet announced whether he will be retried on the remaining attempted murder count. Amaro’s trial ended in a mistrial earlier this month and he will be retried starting next Monday. Eckert was the first defendant to be convicted.
Eckert appears to have fired three shots during the gunfight. None of them found a target. Like Maloney and Amaro, Eckert insisted he had acted in self-defense.
Although he declined to testify at his trial last week he did speak today. “I’d like to apologize to all the families involved,” Eckert told Judge Recksiedler. “I wish that day had never happened.”
Eckert’s lawyer, Adam Pollack, told the judge his client’s crime was using “poor judgment.” He asked the judge to sentence his client to 20 years in prison which would have been the minimum sentence allowed under Florida law. “It’s unfortunate the decisions made that day by everybody,” Pollack said.
Prosecutor Stewart Stone asked the judge to give Eckert at least 24 years.
Recksiedler thought three more years than that was about right.