About 11 p.m. local time last night a Florida jury found Victor Manuel “Pancho” Amaro guilty of the murders of Harold “Lil Dave” Liddle and Dave “Dresser” Jakiela. Under current Florida law Amaro faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.
There was never any question that Amaro killed the two men as they rode into the parking lot of a VFW Post in Winter Springs, Florida on September 30, 2012. His defense attorney, a man named Junior Barrett, told jurors that Amaro had acted in reasonable fear for his life when he retrieved two hidden pistols, held one in each hand and lit up Liddle and Jakiela.
Neither of Amaro’s victims had time to turn off their motorcycles. Liddle died first. Jakiela, an Orlando architect, was shot in the head as he tried to hide behind his motorcycle and died two days later in a hospital. Barrett argued that Amaro “was scared. He was firing (because) he believed they were coming to hurt or kill” Amaro and his codefendants, David “Tin Man” Maloney, Robert William “Willy” Eckert and Paul Wayne Smith.
It was Amaro’s second trial on the same charges. His first trial ended in a mistrial after four days following a prosecutorial error that might have prejudiced his jury.
Maloney was acquitted of the three murder charges and one count of attempted murder in a trial that ended last month. The jury in that trial hung on whether Maloney was guilty of a second count of attempted murder. Prosecutors have not yet announced when or if they will retry Maloney on the unresolved count. Eckert was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 27 years in prison last week by Judge Jessica Recksiedler, the same judge who will sentence Amaro. Smith will stand trial beginning May 21.
The murders culminated a bizarre feud between an eight member chapter of a Philadelphia area motorcycle club and a large and widely respected Orlando based motorcycle club. Both clubs call themselves the Warlocks. Members of the Philadelphia based club wear a Harpy patch. The Florida Warlocks wear a Phoenix which is often referred two as a “Warbird.” About half the members of the small Harpy chapter were former Florida Warlocks who had been kicked out the big club. At least three of those disgruntled ex-members openly expressed bitter grudges against their former club.
Maloney, the president of the Harpy Warlocks Florida chapter is a former Warbird Warlocks chapter president who shot and wounded a member of his old club outside a bar in Sanford, Florida a year before the VFW murders.