SANTA ANA, California – A jury reached a verdict Friday in the trial of four reputed leaders of a white-supremacist prison gang that authorities say murdered and intimidated inmates to protect its drug-dealing operations behind bars.
Barry "The Baron" Mills, Tyler "The Hulk" Bingham, Edgar "The Snail" Hevle and Christopher Overton Gibson were the first defendants to stand trial in a federal racketeering case aimed at dismantling the feared Aryan Brotherhood.
It is one of the largest death penalty cases in U.S. history.
The defendants were charged in an indictment detailing 32 murders and attempted murders involving members of the Aryan Brotherhood over three decades.
During the four-month trial, the jury heard testimony from convicted killers, former gang members and jailhouse informants. Some testified they had been involved in murder plots hatched by the gang to kill those who violated its rules.
Defense attorneys countered that prosecutors built their case on a "parade of perjurers" who were promised money and reduced prison sentences for their testimony.
They said the defendants had to seek membership in the gang as a way to survive in the violent world of prison.
Of the 40 people originally arrested, more than a dozen could get the death penalty if convicted. Nineteen defendants struck plea bargains and one died. Two more trials are scheduled for this fall in Los Angeles.