Hours before he was attacked and killed, Andrew Thurgood called his fiancee and warned her he was in danger.
“Something might happen today,” he said on a recorded prison call. “My big homie told me that the dubs are supposed to … jump me today.”
Thurgood, who was later stabbed 52 times inside a locked cell at High Desert State Prison, uses the term “dubs” as a reference to the Aryan Warriors, a notoriously violent white supremacist prison gang.
Two other inmates, reputed gang member Anthony Williams, 36, and Tarik “Torque” Goicoechea, 34, are on trial in Thurgood’s murder and are facing capital punishment if convicted.
In court on Tuesday, prosecutors presented a letter that Williams wrote to a woman a day before Thurgood’s call predicting he would soon be punished.
“I have to handle something,” Williams wrote in the letter dated Jan. 31, 2016. “So I will be going to the hole & then Ely…. So what’s up you wanna be my pen pal or what?”
The letter and Williams’ phone call were made public this week. Corrections officers intercepted the letter at the time and the call was recorded, suggesting that prison officials knew of Williams’ plan, though he was not charged for his alleged role in the Feb. 1, 2016, slaying for more than three years. After he was released from prison, prosecutors said he organized a series of armed robberies across Clark County.
Gary Modafferi, an attorney for Williams, declined to comment on the contents of the letter.
‘Think about us’
Thurgood’s fiancee, Cynthia Morrow, asked him to “think about us,” and urged him not to fight.
“I do, I do,” he replied. “What do you want me to do, sit there and get beat the f—- up?”
He said he had confronted other inmates he thought might attack him.
“If there’s a … problem, I told them I’d go in the room with anybody,” he said. “If they try something, … yeah, I’m going to stand in their … face. … I’m not going to do nothing, but I’m going to defend myself.”
Morrow suggested that she thought Thurgood was an Aryan Warrior, which he denied.
“I f—- with ONS,” Thurgood said. “And they’re at war with them right now. … That’s exactly why they want to f—- with me … because I won’t be one of them.”
Bryan Shields, with Nevada Department of Corrections inspector general’s office, testified that “ONS” was a reference to Outlaw Nazi Skinheads, a rival of the Aryan Warriors.
Shields also told the grand jury that a prisoner who started a fight that resulted in substantial bodily harm or death could be sent to the state’s maximum security prison, while a less serious skirmish could lead to time in administrative segregation, or “the hole.”
Williams, a felon with convictions dating to 2001, signed the letter with his nickname “Mugsy.”
Last month, prosecutors announced that they plan to seek the death penalty for Williams and Goicoechea, who were charged with murder in a sweeping indictment of the prison gang.
It was the first time prosecutors publicly linked Williams and Goicoechea to the slaying.
Both men pleaded not guilty Wednesday.
Murder case part of gang indictment
The indictment of 23 people was the culmination of an investigation by a gang task force with representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the Clark County district attorney’s office, the Metropolitan Police Department, North Las Vegas police, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office and the Nevada Department of Corrections.
Authorities have not explained why it took more than three years to charge Williams and Goicoechea in the death of Thurgood, who was serving time for attempted possession of a stolen vehicle.
But Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson has said that his office did not learn of Thurgood’s killing until after the joint investigation started.
In an internal email obtained by the Review-Journal last month, a top prosecutor in the state attorney general’s office, which oversees crimes in the prison system, recommended a year ago that no charges be filed against the suspects.
No other crimes listed in the indictment occurred before January.
Other defendants face charges from murder and robbery to drug trafficking and racketeering.
Among those indicted were the Aryan Warriors’ reputed leader, known as the “horn holder,” 37-year-old Robert “Coco” Standridge, who is being held at High Desert State Prison, and Zackaria “Lil Dog” Luz, known as the gang’s “street captain,” or second in command. He also is imprisoned at High Desert.
Two of the men named in the indictment, Devin “Soup” Campbell, 24, and Christopher “Bullwinkle” Ashoff, 38, have been tied to killings in Las Vegas that occurred earlier this year.