The state of Nevada’s case in the Special Memory Wedding Chapel case disintegrated this morning because the prosecutor refused to reveal all the evidence he held against the defendants. The process of revealing evidence against defendants in criminal trials is called “discovery” and it is supposed to be completed before trials begin.
“We filed the motion, the judge declared a mistrial then got up and left” one of the defense attorneys, Tom Pitaro, said. The judge who called off the trial was Michael Villani and the trial was midway through its third week
The eight defendants were Dominic Orlando, Frederick O’Dell, Brandon Young, James Sexey, John Dawson, Jeffrey Murray, John Merchant, and Armando Porras. They faced multiple felony counts including gang enhancements.
The case began when 13 guests at a Hells Angels wedding spotted a wedding party of Mongols on a Sunday evening in December 2008. A member of the Angels wedding party punched a man wearing a Mongols cut and a minute long melee ensued. Two members of the Mongols party were stabbed. Two other people suffered minor injuries. The entire fight was captured on surveillance video and that video was the first evidence the jury saw.
The eight men on trial until today were guests at the Hells Angels wedding. Five more members of the Red and White wedding were scheduled to begin trial Monday but their names do not appear on the court docket. Those men are Charles Goldsmith, Brad Goldsmith, Joshua Ramos, Joseph Gennuso and Samuel Murray.
Pitaro did not speculate about whether he thought the case would be refilled. The case has been hanging over the defendant’s heads since they were charged in 2009.
The state had tried to show that the accused initiated the assault on behalf of their motorcycle club. The man who was most severely injured in the fight, Eugene Formica, left the Mongols soon after the incident. He is now suing the wedding chapel in a separate case. Pitaro said, “I think the credibility of the (prosecution) witnesses was severely impeached.”
The state called the fight unprovoked. Defense attorneys argued their clients acted in self-defense out of a reasonable fear for their safety.