Arizona biker riot trial ends in acquittal

A jury in northwest Arizona didn’t buy the prosecution theory that a motorcycle gang turf war led to a fight between members of rival clubs in June 2009. It returned not guilty verdicts in Kingman on Wednesday in the three-week trial of members of the Hells Angels or Desert Road Riders clubs.

Dale Hormuth of Kingman, Stephen Helland of Golden Valley, and Rudolfo Martinez and Gerald Smith of Rimrock were acquitted of charges of rioting and assisting a criminal street gang for a fight with two members of the Vagos motorcycle club at Lazy Harry’s bar in Bullhead City.

Defense attorney Jeff James conceded guilty verdicts might have been returned had the case instead been charged as an assault or disorderly conduct.

“I just thought it was never a riot,” James said. “It was an altercation between a couple of people in a bar that just happened to have Hells Angels ‘cuts’ on with other motorcycle gang members, but it just wasn’t a riot.”

Defense attorneys Vince Iannone and Brad Rideout said justice has been served while Christian Ackerley went further, questioning prosecution of the case.

“It’s been my belief all along, and I said this during my closing argument, that I believe the reason this case was prosecuted was because of the result of pressure put on the county attorney’s office by law enforcement,” Ackerley said. “They have an agenda, and that agenda is against the Hells Angels.”

Co-defendant George “Joby” Walters took a plea deal in the same case and is serving a 2½-year prison term.

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