One of the defendants in the South Carolina Hells Angels racketeering case, U.S. versus Daniel Eugene Bifield and others, testified for the prosecution in an unrelated murder trial yesterday.
Lisa Ellen Bifield (photo above), wife of the lead defendant in the Hells Angels case told a jury that in 1993 she heard a man named Joseph Ard tell his pregnant girlfriend, Madeline Coffey, that “the next time she (messed up), he would kill her.” Ard was 18-years-old at the time. His girlfriend was 17 and she was eight months pregnant.
The Ard Case
During his first trial, Ard took the stand in his own defense. He testified that Madeline Coffey shot herself in the forehead by accident. In Ard’s version of events, his girlfriend picked up a gun and threatened to kill herself because she was afraid he didn’t love her anymore. Then he testified, “She twisted like this. I said, ‘Give me the fucking gun, Madeline.’ She turned like that, and I reached up to grab it, and it went off.” Ard will probably testify in his own behalf again this week.
A key issue in Ard’s conviction was the absence of gunshot residue on Madeline Coffey’s hands. Ard was convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to death. In 2007, after 11 years of appeals, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that Ard had been denied effective counsel and ordered him retried.
In a letter to Patch, a South Carolina news site, Ard wrote, “I lost my family to a tragic accident and 19 years of my life also. I just want a fair trial to clear my name.”
The appeals attorney who convinced South Carolina’s highest court to give Ard a new trial was William N. Nettles. Nettles is now the U.S. Attorney for South Carolina and so he is in charge of prosecuting Lisa Bifield, her husband and everybody else in the Hells Angels racketeering case.
According to the Columbia, South Carolina newspaper The State, both prosecutors and defenders in the federal case attended the trial to watch Lisa Bifield testify. John Monk, reporting for The State wrote: “They came to study what sort of a witness Bifield would make when she appeared on the witness stand. She appeared to have the makings of a good witness – she sat upright, was not hesitant in her answers and was positive and specific in her assertions.”