Gonzalez Attorney Replies

February 8, 2016

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Gonzalez Attorney Replies

Washoe County, Nevada District Attorney Christopher J, Hicks continues to make a fool of himself  as he desperately tries to preserve the murder conviction of Vago Motorcycle Club Member Ernesto Manuel “Romeo” Gonzalez.

Gonzalez (photo above) was convicted of murdering Hells Angels San Jose charter president Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew during the Street Vibrations motorcycle rally in September 2011. Pettigrew died during a brawl between members of the two clubs in John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada. The brawl was instigated by former Vago Stuart Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick. Rudnick then became the state’s principle witness against Gonzalez and his former club. Gonzalez was sentenced to a minimum of 28 years in prison in October 2013. He will be 83-years-old when he is first eligible for parole.

One the last day of 2015, the Nevada Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Gonzalez had not been treated fairly and should be retried. In what appears top be an unprecedented move, Hicks (who made $175,514.33 in 2014, the last year for which figures are available, by the way) filed a “Petition For Rehearing” that asked the Supreme Court to reconsider their decision, hold another hearing and let Hicks use all his persuasive powers and erudition to try to get four of the seven high court justices to change their minds. It was a remarkably silly and mendacious petition. It should be part of a required case study in law school to illustrate how bad prosecutors can be. It begged for repudiation and last Thursday Gonzalez appeals attorney Richard F. Cornell filed his “Answer to Petition For Rehearing.”

Gonzalez’ Answer

Cornell Wrote:

“This case was vetted prior to December 31, 2015 about as thoroughly as a Nevada Supreme Court case gets vetted. We had a 68-page Opening Brief; a 31 page Answering Brief; and a 29-page Reply Brief. We had full oral argument before the Court en banc in early September 20015. And we had a published opinion, no. 99 on the year, agreed upon by all seven Justices, with a finding of four significant trial errors. Intuitively, it would seem that for the State to succeed on a petition such as this, it would have to convince at least four of the seven Justices that they were just plain wrong to concur with the Opinion; there were not four significant errors in this case, but only zero, or maybe one harmless error; and accordingly four Justices should change their minds within a matter of months.”

The law states: “the Court cannot consider points raised for the first time on a petition for rehearing. And that is so, even if the point is based on a United States Supreme Court case, if that case was in existence at the time of briefing and was not raised at that time.” “Similarly, matters presented in the briefs and oral arguments may not be reargued in the Petition for Rehearing. And, rehearings are not granted to review matters of no material consequence.” The law “requires the petitioner, when complaining of overlooked material issues of law, to cite to references to the pages in the brief where the petitioner raised the issue in question. And when complaining of the overlooking and misapprehension of a material fact in the record, the petitioner must cite to the appendix where the overlooked fact may be found.”

“In this case, Respondent has not followed any of these rules. It has not cited to pages in its brief where it raised the issues it now complains of. It has not cited to the record in terms of facts that the Court overlooked. Rather, it has raised issues either not heretofore raised or thoroughly vetted.”

Justice Delayed

“Even more remarkably, the State says nothing in its Petition regarding the first assignment of error, or ‘the trial court abused its discretion and violated Appellant’s Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment Rights to a fair trial and to due process of law, when it refused to address the jury’s request for supplemental instructions during deliberation that implicated the heart of the case and the elements of the charged offenses.’ The Court easily could have reversed on that error alone. As the Court indicated, the issue of conspiracy to murder went to the heart of the charged offenses. The gravity of the crime charged is extreme, and the character ofthat error is very substantial. Thus, even if the Court were to agree with the State on every other contention, it would not matter.”

“A petition for rehearing cannot be filed for the apparent purpose of delay, and with the improper result – if not the intent – of subjecting the appellant to further odium. This, we fear, is exactly what has happened here. Mr. Gonzalez remains a resident of the Department of Corrections, High Desert State Prison. He cannot return to the Washoe County Jail, an unconvicted felon, until this Court issues its remittitur. This Petition for Rehearing, which must be denied, subjects him to further public odium.”

The Homicide

“The video in this case indeed corroborates the fact of a homicide. But homicide committed in defense of others is a lawful homicide. And that is what the video shows. The undersigned has studied it. The video – which this Court has in its possession – shows the homicide victim, Pettigrew, a member of the Hells Angels, with his gun out (albeit not in ‘execution Style’) and kicking a Vago, Wiggins, in the head. It also shows Villagrana, the codefendant and also a Hells Angel, with his gun out after having shot Garcia, also a Vago, in Garcia’s stomach. And it shows all of this prior to Appellant discharging he fatal gun shots.”

“What turns this from a justifiable homicide, theoretically, into a murder is Rudnick’s highly controverted testimony of Pastor Palafox’s ‘green light’ direction in the Vagos International meeting a few hours prior. That testimony is not only uncorroborated, it is severely impeached. Yet, that severely impeached testimony is the linchpin of the State’s case. And unquestionably, per the charging document, Rudnick is an accomplice – just as the Court stated in (its)Opinion.This issue has been vetted to death. There simply is no lawful reason to revisit it.”

“At its heart, this case is quite simple: Rudnick stupidly and drunkenly started the fracas over a perceived personal slight to him and him alone; Pettigrew and Villagrana elevated the fracas with extreme violence; and before Wiggins could be stomped to death or Garcia could die, Appellant ended it. Nothing that happened in places such as Scotts Valley, Arizona, or Chino, California in any way could possibly be relevant to motive in this ease.”

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12 Responses to “Gonzalez Attorney Replies”

  1. Bone Head Says:

    I’m not an educated man. I’m certainly no lawyer. But it seems to me the last thing a prosecutor would want to do is question the state supreme court. Hicks must be a real idiot.


  2. old & stoned Says:

    Thanks Rebel – there IS alot to be learned from this case and the forthcoming opinion. The En Banc even referenced a missed opportunity for obection overlooked at trial for the defense that would also have been grounds for appeal and reversal. now Broden has cited the appeal decision, re: waco “conspiracy theory”. I still giggle when i remember the appeal transcript, some funny shit right there, if it weren’t a man’s life on the line.

  3. Paladin Says:

    It really is pretty simple. Without corroborating testimony to support Rudnick’s claim of a conspiracy to commit murder (a green light), his statements are nothing more than hearsay.

    It is lawful and therefore reasonable for an individual (Gonzalaz) to use lethal force in defense of another (Wiggins), who was in the process of being subjected to grave bodily injury or death. The foregoing is basic “Self Defense 101” and Hicks new this from the get go, yet with the Judge’s complicity, was able to squeezed a conviction from the jury. Hicks is worried that if re-tried, Gonzalaz will go free, based on (and rightfully so) a claim of self defense of others.

    For a judge to tell a jury to “figure it out for yourselves”, when a jury requests supplemental instructions is absurd.

    Long May You Ride (to those that deserve to),


  4. PastLife Says:

    Pain, death, freedom lost, honor compromised. So much lost by so many people. Rudnick should never know nor be granted peace.

  5. IronRider Says:

    Hicks asking the NV Supreme court to re-consider a decision where they found four important faults at the original trial of Gonzalez and the justices were unanimous in their published opinion is beyond desperation and it shows exactly that.

    Gonzales and his attorney clearly proved to the court that Gonzalez trial resulting in his conviction was unjust and wrong and the NV Supreme court agreed and ordered Gonzalez be re-tried. Hicks seem to think that the court somehow got it wrong, and apparently all 7 justices who came to the conclusion of the result in a unanimous decision did so in error.

    Hick’s seem to believe in Fantasy in that he has the belief that the NV Supreme court would re-consider their written and published decision that was unanimously agree to by all 7 of the justices. The NV Supreme court would have marked their unanimous decision “not for publication” if they did not believe that Gonzalez cases had implications they arrived at that would impact other cases, rather they came to the conclusion that many errors in the handling of Gonzalez’s case were enough of a concern that their unanimous decison was published which means it will have some precedents for both the prosecution and defense in not only this case and other cases will be sure to watch for and abide by from here on in.

    Hicks may well think he is entitled to re-consideration, the NV Supreme court has the say on that and honestly Hicks has a better chance at wining the Powerball Lottery than he does at the NV Supreme court granting his motion for re-consideration.

    Could Hicks petition SCOTUS to hear an appeal? Of course Hicks could, but the standard to get SCOTUS to accept a case for a hearing is a damn high threshold, and to turn over a NV Supreme court decision that was unanimous, The Justices of SCOTUS would have to be highly compelled that there is merit to Hicks appeal, and that just isnt going to happen.

    Hicks knows he is up the creek without a paddle in my opinion, if he doesnt re-try Gonzalez he is going to take a political hit and a professional hit to his reputation. If Hicks takes Gonzalez back to trial, the defense is going to go hard after the points that were pointed out to the NV Supreme court in regard to Gonzalez trial.

    Hicks’s hail-mary attempt at re-consideration is not going to happen, so now Hicks will be forced to make the decision, re-try Gonzalez, try and strike a plea deal with Gonzalez, or let Gonzalez go free.

    I doubt Gonzalez’s lawyer is going to take a deal unless it is time served. Would Gonzalez take a plea at this stage, unless it’s a next to nothing sweetheart of a deal,I doubt it. Hicks is in a tough spot, and the defense knows it and is going to take Hicks to task over this.

    My opinion is that Hicks ego is going to re-try this rather than lose face by letting Gonzalez walk or plea. No matter what Hicks does he is going to come out of this hanging by his political skin and if Gonzalez prevails that is going to be a serious nail in Hicks career.

    Ought to be interesting to watch Hicks squirm and try and figure an out for himself.

  6. Lost Cause Says:

    He’s a county DA and makes $175,000 a year? That’s more than the Governor of Nevada makes. WTF

  7. chromedome Says:


    is the defense allowed to reference the mishandling of the first trial in the new trial.


  8. One Big Egg Roll Says:

    Free Romeo Already!

    San Jose 22

  9. Tumbleweed Says:

    ….. “who was in the process of being subjected to grave bodily injury or death” ….

    It is my understanding that Gonzalez shot Pettigrew in the back.

    That being the case, the process of bodily injury being inflicted by Pettigrew had already ceased, ergo, the shot was malicious, not defensive.

  10. dogbreath Says:

    Tumbleweed, read it again and try not to miss these points:

    “homicide committed in defense of others is a lawful homicide.”

    “The video – which this Court has in its possession – shows the homicide victim, Pettigrew, a member of the Hells Angels, with his gun out (albeit not in ‘execution Style’) and kicking a Vago, Wiggins, in the head.”

    Being able to read words is a fine skill to possess, but not much use if you lack comprehension.

  11. Tumbleweed Says:

    @ dogbreath

    There is just no reason for condescension, especially towards one you have no clue about.

    Comprehension is not one my lesser traits, putting words of testimony transcripts to a visual in my brain, however, often becomes skewed.

    It is from those transcripts to visual wherein I see Pettegrew having ceased his attack when shot in the back.

    IS IT TO SAY, THEN, THAT: the video shows Gonzales fired shots at Pettigrew while Pettigrew was still actively attacking the man on the floor, or had Pettigrew already turned to part from that aggression?

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