From the vantage of Los Angeles, the Heathens Motorcycle Club seemed to appear out of thin air last Saturday when they fought with members of the Widowmakers Motorcycle Club in an Applebee’s in Athens, Tennessee and then opened fire on a member of the American Outlaws Association named Steven Kirkland at a Kangaroo Express gas station just down the street from the Applebee’s.
It wasn’t the first time the Heathens, their patch is pictured above, have been involved in a public fight this year. The first time Heathens and Outlaws fought was at the Easyriders Bike Show in Nashville on February 1. There are various, invective laden accounts of that fight. Most accounts say the fight was between a large group of bikers versus two men. A source this site considers reliable says one Outlaw had his ear bitten off in the altercation.
The most reliable account is probably a legally obtained “Music City Center Incident Report: Internal Document” which states that at 2:45 p.m. local time that Saturday, “roving security was called by Nick Fleming to head over to the exhibit hall B/C. The radio call came out as a fight going on during the easyriders show/event. All security personal (sic), including the posted metro police reported to the location too. There was a fight in the hall near the stage area with two guys and a gang of bikers. Metro PD (officer Smallwood) took the report on this incident and two people were hurt. Mrs. Lanette Bevel was also caught up in this broil. She reported that someone had taken her black leather pocket book (during the fight). No pocket book was found.”
Five weeks later a putative Heathen left this message on the forum site Topix.com. “Heathens MC is a true brotherhood…we stand together and will not be bullied or fold in the face of adversity. We all have jobs, homes and families. We are about freedom…we do not care what patch you wear or what you choose to support. We give respect where it is due…show respect you get respect… we will defend ourselves and our right to fly. Yes we do have members who were part of other clubs. We chose to step away from the trash and begin again as repectable (sic) 1%ers…we dont (sic) disrespect our women, the biker community and believe in our brothers. The man makes the patch…talk to a Heathen and you will understand. Family 1st, Job 2nd, club 3rd…that is the Heathen way. Strong brothers can balance a job and family …otherwise they are not really men. The Easy Rider show was fun…lets do it again soon…I am still wearing the tshirt (sic) punks. 10 on 2 still coildn’t (sic) get it done. HFFH”
Multiple sources believe the Heathens were formed by a former member of the AOA named Dannie Leroy “Sawgrass” Decker. Decker was arrested during a raid on the Chattanooga chapter clubhouse in Cleveland, Tennessee in 2010 and he pled guilty to being a felon in “unlawful possession of a handgun.” He had previously been convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and felony battery. It was a spurious charge. Public accounts describe Decker’s crime as “basically accepting a firearm from a friend, taking a look at it and then passing it back.” The firearm was a .22 caliber derringer. Decker got 46 months.
He was voted out of his motorcycle club in bad standing, informed sources speaking on conditions of anonymity say, because the plea agreement he signed on May 13, 2010 contained the following provisions:
“The defendant further agrees to cooperate fully, completely, and truthfully with any and all law enforcement agents and personnel of the United States Attorney’s Office. This cooperation includes, but is not limited to, meeting with and being interviewed by such law enforcement agents or personnel of the United States Attorney’s Office whenever requested. The defendant further agrees not to protect anyone who was truly involved and not to falsely implicate anyone who was not truly involved in the commission of criminal offenses. The defendant further agrees to testify completely and truthfully before a federal grand jury, at any trial, or at any other proceeding if called upon by the United States to do so. Upon request by the United States, the defendant must furnish all documents, objects and other evidence in the defendant’s possession, custody, or control that are relevant to the United States’ inquiries. The defendant and defense counsel also knowingly, voluntarily, and intentionally waive the defendant’s right (where applicable) to have defense counsel present during the course of cooperation, including questioning or court appearances.”
“To ensure the defendant’s truthful cooperation, the United States agrees, except as provided below, not to use any self-incriminating information provided by the defendant pursuant to this written plea agreement against the defendant. However, nothing in this plea agreement shall restrict the use of any information, (1) known to the United States prior to entering into this written plea agreement; (2) obtained from any other source; or (3) concerning the defendant’s prior criminal record. Should any of the following occur (1) the defendant provides false or misleading information during the course of the defendant’s cooperation; (2) the defendant moves to withdraw the defendant’s guilty plea; or (3) the defendant breaches any other of the terms of this plea agreement; then the United States may make use of any information provided by the defendant to law enforcement authorities at any time (including any information provided during formal or informal proffer sessions prior to signing this plea agreement, and any information provided after signing this plea agreement) for any purpose in any subsequent proceeding, including grand jury, trial, and sentencing phases of this case or in any other prosecutions or proceedings against the defendant or others. Moreover, if the United States determines at any time (before or after sentencing) that the defendant has failed to cooperate fully, completely, and truthfully, or otherwise violated any of the terms of this plea agreement, it will be free to withdraw any favorable sentencing motion filed by the United States.”
Apparently, Decker debriefed for seven months before he was sentenced in January 2011.
Forming The Heathens And Therapy
An informed source believes Decker began organizing the Heathens in late 2012 or early 2013.
There is some indication that Decker may now suffer from a mental condition that effects his judgment and may influence decisions he makes on behalf of his new motorcycle club.
His formal judgment on January 3, 2011 imposes “Special Conditions of Supervision” after his release. Decker “shall participate in a program of mental health treatment, as directed by the probation officer, until such time as the defendant is released from the program by the probation officer. The defendant shall waive all rights to confidentiality regarding mental health treatment in order to allow release of information to the supervising United States Probation Officer and to authorize open communication between the probation officer and the mental health treatment provider.”
Decker’s case seems to exemplify the essential corruption and fruitlessness of American justice. The end result of a federal prosecution in 2010 is that four apparent followers of Decker are now charged with attempted murder.