Joe Bruno on the Mob – Hells Angel Cesar Villagrana Pleads Not Guilty – Judge Bans Hells Angels Duds in the Courtroom


Hells Angel’s member Cesar Villagrana pleaded not guilty in court to a second-degree murder charge for his role in the death of his chapter president, Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew, in a September 23 shootout in a Reno, Nevada casino. Villagrana is not accused of killing Pettigrew, but rather charged with murder because he was a “principal participant in the brawl the led to the death of Pettigrew.”

http://www.amazon.com/Mobsters-Gangs-Crooks-Creeps-ebook/dp/B006H99D1U/ref=zg_bs_11010_5

However, the real story that came out of Villagrana’s court appearance is whether other Hells Angels can appear in court at his trial wearing clothing that symbolizes membership in the Hells Angels. Villagrana’s defense attorney Richard Schonfeld objected when the judge said she intended to ban “colors, patches, emblems or insignias showing gang affiliation in her courtroom during the trial.”

Schonfeld told Judge Connie Steinheimer , “The Hells Angels are a motorcycle club, not a gang, and should be referred to that way.”

To prove his point Schonfeld said, “There’s a difference between a leather jacket and red clothing associated with the Hells Angels and a ‘nice button up shirt’ with a subtle insignia bearing the club emblem.”

Schonfeld asked one member in the audience to stand and show his black shirt with the club’s emblem about the size of the palm of his hand above his left pocket.

“It’s not offensive, per se,” Schonfeld said. “They are not ashamed of being members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club. They don’t want to appear they are hiding from it.”

But the judge insisted. “I don’t want people identified as one motorcycle club against another motorcycle club when in the courtroom,” she said.

Schonfeld also pointed out in 2003 a federal judge allowed Hells Angels members in the courtroom to wear “full leather jackets with patches” at a trial involving a deadly brawl between the Hells Angels and rival Mongols.”

I agree with Schonfeld and I think the judge is overreacting. What’s the difference if members of the Hells Angels wear clothing that identifies themselves as members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang? Especially in light of the fact that Hells Angels members have already agreed not to wear leather jackets and red clothing associated with the Hells Angels in court, and have instead said they will wear a simple “button-down black shirt with a Hells Angels insignia over the left pocket.”

Sometimes judges overstep their bounds, and in my opinion, this is one of those cases. The judge should worry about mediating the murder trial and not what kind of attire the people in the court audience are wearing.

You can read the article below at:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/hells-angels-biker-nevada-court-shootout-15067710#.Tt0vwlYrG18

Hells Angels Biker in Nevada Court Over Shootout

By SCOTT SONNER Associated Press

RENO, Nev. December 2, 2011 (AP)

A California member of the Hells Angels pleaded not guilty Thursday to second-degree murder for his role in the death of his chapter president in a September shootout in a Nevada casino.

Cesar Villagrana of Gilroy also pleaded not guilty to shooting and wounding two members of the rival Vagos motorcycle gang in the melee.

Villagrana is not suspected of shooting his longtime friend and San Jose chapter leader Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew. However. authorities said he was charged with murder because he was a principal participant in the brawl the led to the death in Sparks on Sept. 23.

Washoe District Judge Connie Steinheimer set a tentative Jan. 17 trial date for Villagrana, the same day Ernesto Gonzalez of San Francisco — a Vagos member indicted for murder — is due to stand trial.

Authorities suspect Gonzalez fired the shots that killed Pettigrew

The judge, however, indicated the trial might not begin until the end of 2012.

Prosecutor Karl Hall expects suspect Gary Stuart Rudnick, who was arrested in Los Angeles in connection with Pettigrew’s killing, to be returned to Reno and arraigned before Dec. 7.

Rudnick, vice president of the Vagos Los Angeles chapter, was indicted on a second-degree murder charge.

Rudnick, who goes by the nickname “Jabbers,” is not accused of firing any shots, but police said he was to blame for starting the fight that turned the casino floor into a shooting gallery during a biker rally in Reno-Sparks.

Investigators later retrieved dozens of shell casings and bullets — one lodged in a slot machine, others in bar stools, a card table and a metal poker chip holder.

The two Vagos members shot that night survived. A third Vagos was shot near the casino the next morning and also survived. Police have no suspects in that shooting.

Villagrana’s defense attorney Richard Schonfeld said after Thursday’s arraignment that he intends to seek a separate trial for his client. He also plans to file motions challenging unspecified actions by the grand jury.

In court, Schonfeld objected when the judge said she intended to ban colors, patches, emblems or insignias showing gang affiliation in her courtroom during the trial.

The Hells Angels are a motorcycle club, not a gang, and should be referred to that way, Schonfeld said.

Schonfeld said there’s a difference between a leather jacket and red clothing associated with the Hells Angels and a “‘nice button up shirt” with a subtle insignia bearing the club emblem. He asked one member in the audience to stand and display his black shirt with the club’s emblem about the size of the palm of his hand above his left pocket.

“It’s not offensive, per se,” Schonfeld said. “They are not ashamed of being members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club. They don’t want to appear they are hiding from it.”

Schonfeld said a federal judge in Las Vegas allowed full leather jackets with patches at a trial involving a deadly brawl between the Hells Angels and rival Mongols at a 2002 motorcycle rally in Laughlin, a resort town about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

“I don’t want people identified as one motorcycle club against another motorcycle club when in the courtroom,” the judge said.

http://www.josephbrunowriter.com/index.html

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