A third member of the Battle Creek, Michigan chapter of the Iron Coffins Motorcycle Club was charged yesterday in the death of former club president Lee J. “Leeroy” Taylor (above) on New Year’s 2012.
There were four men in the Iron Coffins clubhouse at the fatal moment.
Taylor wound up in a pool of blood on the floor. Taylor’s widow Lynette, who had gone to the clubhouse with him to celebrate the New Year, said her husband and club member Matthew Starkweather got into a fight over money and Starkweather knocked Taylor down. Then two club members named John Lindahl III and Mario Barroso ordered Lynette Taylor and everyone else who was not a club member to get out. When police arrived Starkweather had a stab wound in his neck and Taylor was dead of multiple blows to the head. Police charged Starkweather with murder on the spot.
Lindahl was arrested and charged with murder six weeks later. According to police the two men beat Taylor to death with a club and a shotgun. They both claimed Taylor attacked them with a knife and they acted in self defense.
Barroso was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact. He agreed to a plea deal in return for his testimony against Starkweather and Lindahl. The accessory after the fact charge was dismissed then Barroso infuriated the prosecutor, a man named Jeff Kabot, by fudging his testimony. Barroso mostly testified that he couldn’t remember what he saw. He couldn’t remember if the fight had lasted 30 seconds or 30 minutes.
As a result, Kabot agreed to dismiss the charges against Starkweather and Lindahl in July 2012. “I am concerned Mario would continue to change his story,” Kabot told the Battle Creek Enquirer. “I don’t want to go into court crossing my fingers and hoping he will tell the truth.”
Yesterday a new prosecutor named David Gilbert decided it was Barroso’s turn to be charged with murder. He told the Enquirer, “We had a plea bargain with him that he doesn’t wish to comply with. In reviewing the evidence it appears that open murder is more appropriate.”
Gilbert’s theory of what happened was that while Taylor was still alive, Barroso handed Starkweather and Lindahl a shotgun they used to beat the dead man. “As an accessory after the fact he gave assistance after the crime, but as an aider and abetter he gave assistance during the offense by giving them the shotgun and other things,” Gilbert explained
The new prosecutor promised this won’t be the end of it. “It’s a cold case and we have been reviewing it and going through the evidence and we do anticipate more charges,” he said.