Hells Angels' Charges Dismissed in 2010 Shootout With Vagos Bikers
Charges were dismissed against seven members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club who were accused of being involved in a 2010 shootout with Vagos, a rival gang.
The two clubs shot it off in Chino Valley, north of Prescott, in August 2010, as at least 50 shots were fired, although no one was seriously injured.
Richard Gaxiola, an attorney for one of the alleged Angels, tells New Times that the only direct witness to the confrontation between the gangs immediately before the shooting happened to be a paid confidential informant -- a fact that wasn't presented to him or the other attorneys for quite some time.
"The only witness to the incident was a confidential police informant at the time who tried to infiltrate the Hells Angels, was rebuked, and had substantial biases against the Angels to begin with," Gaxiola says.
The informant, Alfred Acevedo, had become a "hanger on" with Vagos, while working as an informant for an Arizona Department of Public Safety detective named John Morris.
The night of the shooting, Acevedo and another man were at a Circle K store picking some things up for the "Tri-State President" of Vagos, Ruben Lopez.
While Acevedo was at the store, some Hells Angels -- identified by their getup -- walked into the store, and one of the men asked Acevedo about his Vagos t-shirt.
Acevedo then called back the Vagos house in town, telling them about a "confrontation" with the Angels, and he was told to wait there while some Vagos came by to help.
Acevedo said he watched the Hells Angels from across the street, and followed the group of Vagos members when they rolled up.
But Acevedo claimed he got "lost," and by the time he got back to the Vagos house, the shootings had already happened.
Twenty-seven people were arrested after that shooting, while five were indicted by a grand jury.
The case was remanded to a second grand jury, in which seven were indicted: John Bernard, Kevin Christiansen, Kiley Hill, Robert Kittredge, Michael Koepke, Larry Scott Jr., and Bruce Schweigert.
Through both of those grand juries, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office Detective David Zavos failed to mention that Acevedo was an informant, despite Zavos stating that he was aware of this during both.
Deputy County Attorney Dana Owens, who was prosecuting the case, didn't find out that Acevedo was an informant until February 2011, when someone decided to fill her in.
However, according to Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Celé Hancock's ruling, it appears that Owens still didn't disclose this information to defense attorneys during an evidentiary hearing later that month, although Hancock didn't find her responsible for purposely withholding anything.
Hancock ruled to dismiss the case against the five men, but did so without prejudice, which allows the state to file the charges again and start the process over.
"Acevedo's status as a paid informant and as the only direct witness to a confrontation that led to the shootings in this case is material and clearly exculpatory," Hancock writes.
Chief Deputy County Attorney Dennis McGrane confirmed to New Times that his office will submit the charges again, but declined to comment on the strength of the prosecution's case in an attempt to "avoid the appearance of trying a case in the media."
Gaxiola, who filed the motion to dismiss the case -- which the rest of the Angels joined in on -- wanted the charges dismissed for good, claiming that everyone's failure to identify Acevedo as an informant was intentional.
Hancock did write at one point that Acevedo's failed attempt to join the Hells Angels "gives rise to possible issues of bias and veracity."
Acevedo has also worked as an informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission task force in other parts of the state.
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