Because of threats and intimidation, prosecutors are asking for an anonymous jury to hear a murder case against a Hells Angels motorcycle gang member.
The rare procedure of picking jurors without divulging their names has been used in the O.J. Simpson murder trial and in high-profile Mafia cases.
Now, protecting jurors’ identities is needed in Spokane, says Deputy Prosecutor David Hearrean.
“In this case, prosecution witnesses and the deputy prosecutor have been the victims of attempted intimidation and threats of violence to themselves and their families,” Hearrean says in court documents.
The jury is scheduled to be picked April 29 to hear the murder-assault case against Hells Angels member Tim Myers. Superior Court Judge Kenneth Kato is expected to decide then whether to grant the prosecution’s request for an anonymous jury.
Myers, 42, is charged with fatally shooting an associate of the rival Ghost Riders motorcycle gang last December in the Comet Tavern in Hillyard.
A second man with ties to the Ghost Riders was wounded in the incident.
Five witnesses who the prosecution says are essential to their case told police they are scared and wouldn’t testify.
One of those witnesses, Kenneth “Maggot” Fisette anonymously received a copy of a “wanted: dead or alive” poster with his picture on it, court records say.
The prosecutor says he, too, has been harassed.
Hearrean received telephone bomb threats at his home, and he and his wife were confronted by four Hells Angels while eating dinner at the Mars Hotel in downtown Spokane, court documents say.
The Hells Angels surrounded the couple’s table on March 23 and “were obviously trying to utilize a tactic of stare-down intimidation,” Hearrean says in an affidavit.
“One of the Hells Angels actually seated himself next to me before I could leave and blocked my planned exit,” the affidavit says.
Worried that witnesses may be scared off, Hearrean obtained material witness arrest warrants to hold witnesses in jail until they gave videotaped testimony.
The video testimony will be shown to the jury if the witnesses can’t be located during the trial.
Myers, who’s out of jail on bond, is expected to claim he fired the shots in self-defense.
Myers’ attorney, Bevan Maxey, is asking the court to forbid the prosecutor from calling the Hells Angels a “gang” or describing the Ghost Riders who were shot as “victims.”
The case touches upon ongoing rivalry between the Hells Angels, who opened a Spokane club in 1994, and the Ghost Riders, who’ve been around for more than two decades.
Leaders of the two outlaw biker clubs in Spokane have had their club patches - called “colors” - ripped off their jackets and stolen by rival club members, police say.
More than symbolic dominance, such thefts almost guarantee a biker war, experts say.
Myers’ Hells Angels patch was stolen after he went into the Comet Tavern on Dec. 9, where several members of the Ghost Riders and their friends were drinking.
Court documents say the patch was taken by Fisette, who authorities describe as a leader of the Ghost Riders.
Fisette and his wife, Yolanda, took the patch to the home of Traci Metzger. As an apparent peace offering, the patch later was returned to the Hells Angels by someone who dropped it off at American Motorcycle, 3527 E. Sprague.
The Hells Angels claim they also have received threats, including a postcard showing sad-eyed children. “I haven’t died, just been busy planning how you will die,” the card says.
A copy of the card was released by “Smilin Rick” Fabel, the current president of the Spokane Hells Angels chapter.
Fabel and Myers couldn’t be reached for comment last week.
It’s not known whether Maxey will oppose the prosecutor’s attempt to select anonymous jurors. Before picking the jurors, the defense likely will want to know jurors’ backgrounds.