The trial of eight members and associates of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club accused of assaulting five members and associates of the Mongols Motorcycle Club in the Special Memory Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas in December 2008 started its second week today.
The brawl erupted when a wedding party of Hells Angels crossed paths with a wedding party of Mongols in the main lobby of the busy chapel. The assault lasted slightly more than a minute. There were numerous eye witnesses and the whole fight was video-recorded.
The defendants are Jeffrey Murray, John Merchant, Dominic Orlando, Frederick O’Dell, Brandon Young, James Sexey, John Dawson and Armando Porras. Five more defendants named Charles Goldsmith, Brad Goldsmith, Joshua Ramos, Joseph Gennuso and Samuel Murray should go on trial July 30. Collectively, the 13 men are charged with Conspiracy to Commit Assault, Battery or Provoking Commission of Breach of the Peace; Attempted Murder With Use of a Deadly Weapon With Intent to Promote the Activities of a Criminal Gang; three counts of Battery With a Deadly Weapon With Substantial Bodily Harm With Intent to Promote the Activities of a Criminal Gang; Battery With Substantial Bodily Harm With Intent to Promote the Activities of a Criminal Gang; Assault With a Deadly Weapon With Intent to Promote the Activities of a Criminal Gang; Coercion With Force; and Coercion With Force With Use of a Deadly Weapon.
Video And Objections
During the fight the Mongol groom and his best man were stabbed. The video presents a problem for the defense. It clearly shows that two men held the groom’s arms while a third man stabbed him in the stomach. The defendants have maintained all along that they acted in self-defense.
The defendants were indicted in July 2010 and they are all free on bail. The onset of the trial has been delayed for multiple technical reasons. The most recent delay was the result of defense objections that the current Clark County District Attorney, Steve Wolfson, might have improper knowledge of defense strategy. Wolfson was a defense attorney when the men were indicted and worked for a firm that represents two of the defendants. That objection went all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court which ruled against the accused.
There has been little news of the trial. The last public document was released six days ago in the midst of jury selection. But the prosecution’s case is familiar. With the video providing little doubt about who did what, prosecutors seem most interested in securing “gang enhancements.” Gang enhancements can add up to 20 years to the sentence any defendant may receive.
As usual, the state has been slow to discover all the evidence it intends to use against the defendants. Prosecutors have sought to portray the Hells Angels as racists but last week the judge in the case, Michael Villani, ruled that he is “inclined to exclude the swastikas and SS bolts” from evidence that can be shown to jurors. Lance Maningo, Brandon Young’s attorney, moved for a mistrial and was denied. And Judge Villani has generally ruled as if he intends to try the defendants for the reputation of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. An unnamed “expert witness” will testify for the prosecution.
This trial is expected to last for another two weeks.