The Christopher “Stoney” Ablett racketeering trial, which is a proxy for the Mongols Motorcycle Club racketeering trial, rolls on in San Francisco.
Ablett is accused of murdering Hells Angels Frisco charter President Mark “Papa” Guardado on behalf of the “Mongols criminal enterprise” in a street fight in the Mission District in September 2008. Ablett faces life in prison if convicted. He has never been offered a plea deal. He has already spent 40 months behind bars.
Now all the Big Justice Department Meat Processing Machine has to do is convince a jury that the homicide was not at all what American philosopher William James called “The Moral Equivalent of War” but really the Countrywide mortgage mess dressed up in a three piece patch. So far, before the defense even begins to present its case, Big Justice appears to be rolling on flat tires.
ATF Special Agent and Super Outlaw Darrin Kozlowski, who began to testify last Friday, was back on the stand from 8:30 a.m. Monday until lunchtime on Tuesday. Ablett’s lead counsel, Richard Mazer, spent part of that time toying with the undercover agent. During one, long rhetorical interlude Mazer asked “Tha Koz” to name the chapter Presidents of each Northern California Mongols chapter. The well prepared witness obliged. Then, one by one, Mazer asked Kozlowski to tell the jury what each of them had been indicted for. That forced the expert witness to reply over and over, “He wasn’t indicted for anything.” So the jury heard over and over that most Mongols have never been indicted for anything.
Mazer also beat Kozlowski about the head and shoulders with the witness’ wretched deceitfulness. “So you deceived all these people who were your supposed brothers? You lied on a regular basis to these men? So, Mr. Kozlowski, you are in fact a professional liar, aren’t you?”
To which Kozlowski replied, “Yes.”
The Missing Evidence
Even more shocking than the total lack of press interest in this trial is the astounding lack of physical evidence.
For example, the gun that killed Guardado is still missing. The bullet that penetrated Guardado’s torso has never been recovered. Guardado’s cell phone is also missing and although he was pronounced dead at 11:02 p.m. the phone was still making calls at 12:05 a.m. Someone checked Guardado’s voice mail five days after he died. The defense attempted to convince the jury that if the dead man’s cell phone was carried away from the scene other evidence may have been as well.
At other points in the trial this week the prosecutors have appeared to be sloppy about details. For instance the government seems to be unable to prove that Guardado’s arm stab wounds were inflicted before he died rather than after. An expert witness in “blood stain pattern interpretation” named Craig Ogino hung Guardado’s jacket on a mannequin and testified that the jacket had been zipped closed. However, Guardado was a stocky man. He was about five-eight and when he died he weighed about 295 pounds. So it might have been physically impossible for Guardado to zip his jacket closed.
Demonizing The Angels
When the defense begins to argue its case tomorrow or next week, Mazer will probably take pains to demonize both Guardado and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. Two of the witnesses the defense has subpoenaed to do that are cops.
One of those witnesses is a Laconia New Hampshire Sheriff’s Lieutenant named Christopher Cost who was once assaulted by Guardado. The other witness is a former Petaluma, California detective named Jason Lechleiter.
Lechleiter is described in defense documents as, “the lead detective in a criminal case in Sonoma County in which Guardado led an attack by members of the Hells Angels upon an innocent citizen at a restaurant in Petaluma, California in February 2008. Mr. Guardado and another Hells Angel, Jonathan Nelson of the Sonoma County Chapter, were charged with assault causing great bodily injury and being members of a criminal street gang, as that term is defined under California state law. Mr. Lechleiter spent the next six months investigating the Hells Angels chapters in San Francisco and Sonoma County. He wrote and executed search warrants of the Hells Angels clubhouses in San Francisco and Santa Rosa in July 2008. Mr. Lechleiter developed specialized knowledge of the criminal activities of the Hells Angels in the San Francisco Bay area, and how members of those chapters were operating a sophisticated criminal enterprise that engaged in multiple forms of criminal activity. Mr. Guardado was on bail for the Sonoma County charges when he led the attack on Mr. Ablett in September 2008. Mr. Nelson was later convicted of the February 2008 assault in a Sonoma County jury trial in 2010.”
Lechlieter, who now lives in New Mexico, will testify either by video feed or by a video recorded deposition. The jury should hear his opinions of the Angels next week. And the defense expects him “to support the reasonableness of defendant Chris Ablett’s belief that he was being attacked by members and associates of the Hells Angels on the evening of September 2, 2008, in support of the defendant’s claim that he acted in self-defense and in defense of others, namely the two women he was with when the attack by the Hells Angels occurred.”
It seems increasingly likely that Ablett will take the stand in his own defense. An amendment to the jury instructions proposed by Ablett’s defense on Thursday reads, “The defendant has testified. You should treat this testimony just as you would the testimony of any other witness.”
And, it still remains possible that former Mongols President Ruben “Doc” Cavazos may testify on Ablett’s behalf. Defense investigators interviewed Cavazos last week at the California City gulag where the government has been hiding him since last September. Among other things Doc told them he would really enjoy a trip to San Francisco. And, a usually informed source has said that possibility has thrown the ATF Case Agent who put Cavazos in prison, a fellow named John Ciccone, into a “panic.”