The cases of two reputed Aryan Warriors members were severed from a case against 21 other members Wednesday because the two men are facing the death penalty in connection with a deadly 2016 prison stabbing.
Defense attorneys for Anthony “Mugsy” Williams and Tarik “Torque” Goicoechea asked during a Wednesday hearing that their cases be prosecuted separately because they’re the only defendants for whom the state is seeking capital punishment.
Williams and Goicoechea are accused of stabbing 26-year-old Andrew Thurgood dozens of times inside a cell in February 2016. Williams was released from High Desert State Prison in May 2018, without facing charges in the killing, and went on to commit a series of armed robberies.
Several defendants were present at the hearing, and one, Robert Standridge, appeared via video from Ely State Prison. Courtroom staff stopped the video during the hearing after Standridge flashed an apparent white supremacist hand gesture.
Attorneys for Williams and Goicoechea also requested in court that the district attorney’s office turn over an email leaked to the Review-Journal regarding the stabbing.
The request came after the Review-Journal published a story Wednesday revealing a 2018 internal email from a top prosecutor at the state attorney general’s office recommending that no murder charges be filed against Williams and Goicoechea.
Goicoechea’s attorney, Kristina Wildeveld, said she made an informal request to the district attorney’s office to see if the email would be included in discovery, but was told that it was not.
“I don’t know how the DA’s office would one, be in possession of that, or two, how that would be exculpatory evidence in terms of this investigation,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Binu Palal said, referencing that the email came from the attorney general’s office.
Palal said any documents relating to the investigation from the state attorney general or the Nevada Department of Corrections would be handed over to defense attorneys.
“I haven’t had a chance to read the RJ today,” District Court Judge Douglas Herndon said at the hearing, “so I’m not quite sure what everything is, but I will grant the oral request for discovery.”
The email was sent from Michael Kovac, chief deputy in the attorney general’s criminal prosecution unit, to three other prosecutors. In it, he wrote that Thurgood “comes off as completely unhinged” and may have been the aggressor in the fight.
However, the murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges were included in the indictment that swept up Williams, Goicoechea and 21 others with ties to the white supremacist prison gang.
Williams and Goicoechea will be assigned court dates separate from the other alleged members after a status check in October.