The trial of Mongol Christopher Ablett (above), charged with racketeering and the murder of Hells Angel Mark Guardado, began yesterday in a sealed court.
The room was closed for 25 minutes while an FBI agent named Jake D. Millspaugh testified that an unnamed “Confidential Human Source” probably didn’t actually know what he was talking about. The privacy was necessary to protect that source’s identity from reporters and other enemies of justice. So far the only thing disclosed about the source is that he is human. So he couldn’t have been Mr. Ed or Francis the Talking Mule.
It Wasn’t Cheetah
So, it was not Cheetah the Chimp who told Millspaugh:
“…the circumstances surrounding the death of Mark Guardado, who was the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) San Francisco Chapter president. Four Mongols Motorcycle Club (MMC) members, including Christopher Ablett, were drinking at a bar. The HAMC became aware of the four MMC member’s location and went to confront the MMC members. Three MMC members had left when Guardado was the first HAMC member to arrive. Ablett was in the parking lot, getting ready to leave, when Guardado confronted Ablett and displayed a knife. Ablett drew a gun, then Ablett and Guardado struggled. During the struggle, Guardado was shot in the head. Ablett disengaged, then shot Guardado in the chest to ensure Guardado was dead.”
The source who was not Flipper the Porpoise or My Favorite Martian also “…opined that if a MMC member was confronted by a HAMC member, the MMC member would have no choice but to kill the HAMC member. MMC members normally carry several large knives at all times.”
The defense had requested the name of this human source. The prosecution objected. The judge settled the dispute but his ruling was sealed to protect the public from dangerous knowledge and to save trees on order to preserve the environment and logging company profits. Presumably the defense now knows the identity of this human source but they must act like they don’t.
The Evidence Dump
The FBI interview surfaced during the traditional, pre-trial evidence dump. The ultimate goal of all federal prosecutors is to keep the “corrections industry” profitable by obtaining as many convictions as possible. Consequently, prosecutors employ numerous, shrewd tactics to overwhelm their victims. And, one of the most popular of those tactics is the “evidence dump.” It is just what it sounds like.
Ablett’s defense attorneys Michael Burt and Richard Mazer whined about it.
“On January 3, 2012,” they complained in a memo filed Sunday, “government produced 8 additional DVDs of discovery which contained among other things 454 pages of FBI 302 reports, 355 pages of transcripts of audio recorded interviews (the recordings themselves have yet to be produced), and 200 pages of miscellaneous case documents. On January 9, 2011, the government disclosed a 7 page declaration of ATF Agent Darrin Kozlowski. The declaration refers to numerous exhibits which have yet to be produced in response to a defense request. On January 11, 2012, the government disclosed audio tapes of two critical witnesses. On January 18, 2012, the government produced a September 12, 2008 exculpatory San Francisco Police Department report regarding members of MS-13 who claimed responsibility for Mr. Guardado’s murder back in 2008. Also on January 18, 2012, the government served an expanded witness list which increased the number of witnesses from 60 to 77. On January 19, 2012, the government produced 77 audio tapes from the Los Angeles Mongols case which contain hundreds of hours of recorded calls. On January 20,2012, the government produced 141 pages of Giglio/Brady material and a belated summary of yet another expert witness. On January 21, 2012 the government produced a 2.84 GB DVD containing 132 trial exhibits. To say that this type of last minute-discovery production has hampered Mr. Ablett’s ability to defend himself against wide-ranging allegations is a gross understatement. In fact, the government’s tactics have crippled the present defense team’s ability to provide the effective assistance of counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, and that is its obvious purpose, as Mr. Ablett’s attorney’s have been demanding timely and adequate discovery since the inception of this case.”
The case went federal in July 2009.
Other Details Of The Pending Conviction
Saturday, the prosecutors supplied the defense with the complete list of the 33, ATF Reports of Investigation from “Operation Black Rain” that it will be used to prove that Ablett is Al Capone. Some of the ROIs may have been conceived as satire, possibly while the undercover agents were intoxicated. The final report on the list is ROI 800 in which ATF Special Agent Darrin Kozlowski explains how he learned of the “circumstances” of the death of a Mongol named Manuel Vincent “Hitman” Martin. Kozlowski who enjoyed a motorcycle ride and a party with Martin the night he died reports that he learned of the death the next day and then used clever interrogation to determine the events that might have precipitated the murder.
Jury selection began after Agent Millspaugh concluded his secret testimony. Twelve jurors and four alternates were selected, admonished to emulate the three monkeys who could neither see, hear nor speak, and then sent home about 1:30 p.m.
A brief discussion followed as to whether the well-known travel writer Edward Hasbrouck (he is best-known as The Practical Nomad) was properly subpoenaed to testify or not. The presiding judge, Richard Seeborg, wrapped that up in about ten minutes. Then everybody took the rest of the day off.
Opening arguments and testimony began today. Prosecutors will remind jurors that the police are infallible so Ablett wouldn’t be sitting at the defendant’s table if he wasn’t guilty of something. The defense attorneys will argue that Ablett might have done something but if he did anything it was in self defense.