The trial of two men, a Hells Angels member and a Hells Angels prospect, charged with a 2006 shooting has begun in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Chad Wilson, of Lynnwood, Washington, a patched member of the club and prospect John Midmore of Valparaiso, Indiana are each charged with five counts of attempted murder. The charges stem from a shooting at Legion Lake Resort, a campground about 70 miles south of the Black Hills Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis.
Under South Dakota law, each count of attempted murder is punishable by a term of 25 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Both defendants are also charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit murder which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison in South Dakota.
In turn, Wilson and Midmore are suing 19 government officials in Federal Court on grounds that the government is withholding evidence that would exonerate them. Logically, this implies that the defendants believe that the Outlaws have been infiltrated or surveilled by officers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and that those officers are withholding evidence to protect their investigation.
The theory of the crime advanced by the prosecution and tacitly accepted by the defense is that the shooting resulted from a long-bubbling feud between the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and the American Outlaw Association which is also known as the Outlaws Motorcycle Club.
The five victims have been identified as Thomas Hass, Al Mathews, Danny Neace, Claudia Wables and Susan Evans-Martin. The Outlaws MC is a male only fraternal organization but all five victims, including the two women, have been identified in the press as “Outlaw members.”
The shooting was the first at the Black Hills Rally since a disagreement in a Sturgis bar in 1990 led to the shooting of a member of the Outlaws and the stabbing of two members of the Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club.
The trial will be long and expensive, The defense has submitted a list of 153 possible witnesses. The prosecution’s witness list includes more than 200 names.
In her opening statement, the Custer County prosecutor told the jury that Wilson and Midmore drove to the camp ground in search of the Outlaws, waited in a white pickup truck for an opportunity to commit the crime, then when that opportunity presented itself the two defendants got out of their truck and opened fire.
The defense is arguing that the Wilson and Midmore are victims who acted in self-defense. One defense attorney has already argued that the gunfight was started by an uninjured member of the Outlaws MC named Nathan Frazier.