Defense lawyers, alleging prosecutorial misconduct by the Clark County district attorney’s office, tried Friday to torpedo the 2008 assault case against members of the Hells Angels.
“That’s ridiculous,” a prosecutor responded during a contentious three-hour hearing before Judge Michael Villani.
The motion to dismiss the case against eight of the 13 men charged with bludgeoning three Mongols in a 2008 wedding chapel brawl came after an August mistrial.
Villani declared a mistrial because prosecutors failed to tell defense lawyers that a detective in the case testified in a child custody hearing for one of the victims. The detective testified the victim was no longer a member of the Mongols.
Defense lawyer Jim Oronoz said, under the law, prosecutors must disclose when a state’s witness receives a benefit from the state, such as plea bargain or financial payment.
Prosecutors admitted they knew the detective testified for the victim but chose to disclose the information during trial rather than before trial.
“The defense was clearly goaded and forced to ask for a mistrial,” Oronoz argued.
Because prosecutors had seen the defense strategy, retrying the case would be a violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights, Oronoz argued.
“That’s ridiculous,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Sonia Jimenez said.
The prosecutor said the detective didn’t choose to help in the child custody matter. He was subpoenaed and had to testify.
“When the facts are against you and the law is against you, pound the table,” Jimenez said of the defense strategy.
Villani is expected to rule on the motion in the coming weeks.
Surveillance footage of the brawl shows Hells Angels and others swarming rival gang members at A Special Memory Wedding Chapel on Fourth Street and Gass Avenue on Dec. 20, 2008. Six were injured, including three members of the Mongols.
Hells Angels were attending a wedding ceremony. As they were leaving, at least three Mongols were at the chapel for another wedding. The 13 men attacked the Mongols, bludgeoning them with their fists, feet, bottles and trash cans, according to police.
Prosecutors called it an unprovoked attack.
The defense lawyers said their clients were acting in self-defense because Mongols had months earlier attacked and killed a Hells Angel in San Francisco.
A trial is set for August for the eight defendants: Dominic Orlando, Frederick O’Dell, Brandon Young, James Sexey, John Dawson, Jeffrey Murray, John Merchant and Armando Porras. They face about a dozen felony and misdemeanor counts, including attempted murder, battery and conspiracy.
The five remaining defendants in the case will face similar charges in two other separate trials.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039.