After deliberating for four and a half hours tonight, a six person jury in Sanford, Florida found Paul Wayne “Dog” Smith innocent of charges of second degree murder and attempted first degree murder. Smith had been accused of murdering Peter “Hormone” Schlette, Harold “Lil Dave” Liddle and Dave “Dresser” Jakiela. He was accused of trying to kill Brad Dyess and Ronnie “Whiteboy” Mitchell who were wounded.
All five victims were members of the Warlocks Motorcycle Club. Smith was a former Warlock and a member of a separate and distinct Warlocks Motorcycle Club. The gunfight in which Schlette, Liddle and Jakiela died was the climax of an interclub dispute. The men died shortly after arriving at the assembly point for a charity poker run on September 30, 2012. Smith’s club sponsored the event.
Smith was one of four men charged in the homicides. David “Tin Man” Maloney was found not guilty on the same charges on April 11. Maloney fired three shots during an extended exchange of gunfire with Dyess and Mitchell but hit no one. Robert William “Willy” Eckert, who also shot no one during the exchange, was found guilty of manslaughter and other charges and was sentenced to 27 years in prison on May 1. Victor Manuel “Pancho” Amaro who shot and killed Liddle and Jakiela was sentenced to life in prison last May 29. Smith shot Schlette in the arm and face and killed him. All four defendants had claimed they acted in self defense.
Smith’s lawyer, Debra Ferwerda, convinced jurors that the dead men had come to hurt her client and that he had reasonably feared for his life. She told the jury that Smith had been badly beaten on February 5, 2011 after he ran for club president and lost. She argued that Schlette was “a scary, violent, crazy guy” who had threatened to rape Smith’s wife and who swaggered like a “tough guy” just before he was shot and that the dead men were actually trying to ambush Smith.
Smith may have saved his freedom today when he took the witness stand in his own defense. Smith testified that he thought he was going to die when he was beaten. “I really thought it was 10 to 15 people,” he said. “I was being stomped.” He said he had been threatened by Warlocks on multiple occasions.
He testified that he had been warned in advance that the Warlocks were coming to kill him and the other defendants and he testified that Schlette had dropped his motorcycle to the ground and charged him. “When he started coming up to come after me, I shot him in the arm. He looked up and said, ‘You shot me motherfucker!’ He was still coming after me. It didn’t stop him.” Smith said that after wounding Schlette in the arm, “Something hit me in the face, and I turned and fired my gun. There was bullets coming from everywhere.”
Smith told jurors he does not own or like guns and had borrowed the gun he used to kill Schlette from a friend.
Smith remains in custody on a drug charge. His current bail is $6,000.