JURY REACHES VERDICTS IN ARYAN BROTHERHOOD TRIAL
By Dan Whitcomb Fri Jul 28, 1:43 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -
A U.S. jury reached verdicts on Friday in the racketeering trial of four leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood, a case that represents
the first salvo in a bid by prosecutors to break the notorious prison gang.
Prosecutors said the verdicts
would be read at 1:30 p.m. PDT (4:30 p.m. EDT) in the case against Aryan Brotherhood chief Barry "The Baron" Mills, his top
lieutenant Tyler "The Hulk" Bingham, Christopher Gibson and Edgar "Snail" Hevle.
Mills and Bingham could
face the death penalty if found guilty of ordering or committing murders as part of the racketeering conspiracy. Gibson and
Hevle could be sentenced to life in prison.
Prosecutors say the men
spent a quarter century trying to control life behind bars through violence and intimidation. The U.S. District Court indictment
details a series of murders or attempted murders by the prison gang.
Defense lawyers argued during
the four-month trial, carried out under heavy security in Santa Ana, that their clients had merely banded together to survive
amid violent racial warfare in maximum security U.S. prisons.
Defense attorneys also accused
the government of basing its case on "a parade of perjurers" who cooperated in exchange for cash payments and promises of
Witnesses testified at the
trial that the Aryan Brotherhood rose to prominence among prison gangs by being particularly ruthless, often directing murders
and assaults by notes written in code or with invisible ink made with fruit juice or urine.
Prosecutors say convicted
Mafia boss John Gotti once hired the brotherhood, which was also known as "the Brand," to kill a man who had fought him in
a prison yard.
Prosecutors may ultimately
seek the death penalty against 16 members of the Aryan Brotherhood in a sweeping case that they say ranks as one of the largest
death penalty prosecutions in U.S. history.
Forty people were originally
charged in the case in 2002. Since then, 19 have struck plea bargains and another has died. Trials are pending for the rest.