Jury selection ended yesterday in Sanford, Florida in the trial of David “Tin Man” Maloney. Testimony began this morning. The trial is scheduled to continue throughout the week.
Maloney, a member of the “Chester based and trademark registered original Warlocks” Motorcycle Club is accused of second degree murder and attempted murder in the shootings deaths of three members of the Warlocks Motorcycle Club during a charity poker run at a VFW Post in Winter Springs, Florida on September 30, 2012. The dead men were Harold “Lil Dave” Liddle, Peter “Hormone” Schlette and Dave “Dresser” Jakiela. Two other Warlocks, Brad Dyess and Ronnie “Whiteboy” Mitchell, were wounded.
The Florida based Warlocks and the Chester Warlocks are completely separate clubs that share no common history. The Florida Warlocks wear a patch that depicts a Phoenix – sometimes patch holders refer to it as a “Warbird.” The Chester Warlocks are an off shoot of the Philadelphia Warlocks. Both the Chester and the Philadelphia Warlocks wear a patch that depicts a Harpy. Maloney is a former member of the Florida Warlocks who joined the Chester Warlocks after he was expelled from his old club.
Maloney has argued since he was arrested that he acted in self defense. Ironically his defense was bolstered by Florida Warlocks patch holder last Saturday, two days before Maloney’s trial was scheduled to begin.
According to police in Brevard County, Florida, a Warbird Warlock named John Charles Haskell drove his white Sport Utility Vehicle next to a three motorcyclists on Interstate 95 and shot at them. A Chester Warlock named Larry Spohn was wounded in his right arm. Spohn had been subpoenaed to testify as a defense witness in Maloney’s trial. Maloney’s lawyer, Michael LaFay, immediately began arguing that Saturday’s shooting bolstered his client’s claim of self defense.
“The defense witnesses in this case have been habitually threatened and harassed for months,” LaFay complained as he made sure reporters knew that the alleged shooter Saturday “was a Florida Warlock. It’s the same organization.”
In his opening statement this morning, LaFay told jurors Maloney was in fear for his life the day of the poker run. “There was a green light on him,” LaFay said. “That means he’s a marked man. He was marked for death.” LaFay told jurors Maloney never shot any of the dead men, that he was inside the VFW when the shootings began and that when he came outside he shot in self defense. LaFay said Maloney fired only one or two shots.
Prosecutors have characterized the shootings as an “ambush.” Prosecutor Lisa Haba told jurors that Maloney was guilty of murder. “You can hear that after that first shot. All four men participated in this shooting,” she said. “As the Florida Warlocks pulled in, they were ambushed by gunfire.”
Ironies And Coincidences
Maloney’s case overflows with ironies and coincidences. For example, there was a camera crew at a nearby Florida Warlocks clubhouse the morning of the shootings. The film crew was part of a reality television series called Warlocks Rising.
And the VFW hall was surveilled by police that morning. One of the watchers was a Winter Springs undercover cop named Matt Scovel. Scovel testified this morning that he watched and photographed the VFW parking lot for two hours before he decided to follow three bikers away from the scene about five minutes before the shooting began. Scovel testified this morning that he heard about the shootings on his police radio just as he turned around to return to the hall.
Coincidently, a second surveillance vehicle occupied by Winter Springs Police Sergeant Bradlea Heath made the same decision to leave the VFW and follow the same three bikers at the same time. Heath described the abandonment of the scene by police just before the shooting began as “a miscommunication.”