After nearly two weeks of hearing contradictory testimony, studying photos of body tattoos and visiting a downtown lounge, a Spokane County jury on Thursday started deliberating intimidation charges against five Hells Angels.
The five-woman, seven-man jury left the courtroom to study more than 30 trial exhibits and review the testimony of more than 20 witnesses.
But jurors were unable to reach a verdict Thursday night. Deliberations will resume this morning.
During closing arguments, opposing attorneys agreed on one point: None of the motorcycle gang members made overtly threatening gestures or statements.
But Special Deputy Prosecutor Rocco Treppiedi argued that the bikers’ actions and non-verbal body language were as effective a message as a finger dragged across the throat.
“The threat doesn’t have to be direct, … and the Hells Angels are the masters at it,” Treppiedi said.
Defense attorney Bevan Maxey told the jury the charges against the five men are “an absurd story that doesn’t make sense.”
Authorities had pressed the intimidation charges as a payback for losing a murder trial against one of the Hells Angels earlier this year, Maxey claimed.
“They’re trying to dehumanize these events. They want to talk to you about ‘colors.’ But let’s make sure we try these men as human beings, not stereotypes,” Maxey said.
Jurors have to decide if four of the bikers intimidated a public official - Deputy Prosecutor David Hearrean, who later put Hells Angel Timothy Myers on trial for murder last spring.
Charged with intimidating Hearrean are Michael Cultis, Joe Dye, Rick Fabel and Michael Wooster.
Fabel, president of the Hells Angels’ Spokane chapter, and Myers, its secretary, are charged with intimidating a witness, Yolanda Fisette. She had testified against Myers in the murder trial.
During the intimidation trial, jurors were taken downtown to examine the site of the alleged harassment against Hearrean.
Prosecutors said Hearrean and his wife were in the Mars Hotel lounge with friends when four Hells Angels wearing their vests and colors - club patches - entered the lounge and took up positions around the room.
Cultis, his arms crossed, glared at Hearrean from a distance, according to Treppiedi.
Wooster allegedly sat next to Hearrean, pinning him against the table.
Maxey stressed that none of the friends with Hearrean and his wife that night noticed the alleged threats.