LAS VEGAS – Jury selection began Monday in state court in Las Vegas for eight of 13 men facing felony and misdemeanor charges in a December 2008 wedding chapel brawl between Hells Angels and rival Mongols motorcycle club members.
Authorities say the brawl broke out as Hells Angels members leaving a wedding in downtown Las Vegas encountered Mongols members arriving for another wedding. Six people were hurt, including two who were treated for stab wounds.
Court spokeswoman Mary Ann Price said jury selection was expected to continue into Tuesday. Clark County District Court Judge Michael Villani has said he expects trial to last four weeks.
Each of the defendants pleaded not guilty following their indictment in July 2010 on 13 charges including attempted murder, battery, assault, conspiracy and taking part in activities of a criminal gang. Each is accused of aiding and abetting each other. If convicted, each could face decades in prison. All are free on bond.
Defense attorneys have said the men were acting in self-defense.
Defendants Jeffrey Murray and John Merchant are accused of stabbing one Mongols member who planned to be married, and Merchant is accused of also stabbing another man.
Murray and Merchant are standing trial with Dominic Orlando, Frederick O'Dell, Brandon Young, James Sexey, John Dawson and Armando Porras.
Defendants Charles Goldsmith, Brad Goldsmith, Joshua Ramos, Joseph Gennuso and Samuel Murray face trial July 30. Attorneys for Gennuso and Ramos have said their clients aren't Hells Angels members.
Authorities reported three Mongols members were among those hurt in the melee at A Special Memory Wedding Chapel. A woman was allegedly chased from the chapel by a Hell's Angel member who threw a bottle at her.
No one was arrested immediately after the brawl. Police spent months developing the case before serving search warrants in November 2009 at six sites in and around Las Vegas and Henderson.
Hells Angels and Mongols have feuded for years, including a 2002 gunbattle in a casino at an annual motorcycle rally in Laughlin, a resort town about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Two Hells Angels and one Mongol member died in that fracas, and more than 12 people injured.
In California, a Mongols member from Modesto is serving life in federal prison without parole after being convicted of murdering the president of the Hells Angels' San Francisco chapter outside a bar in September 2008.
In South Dakota, two Hells Angels were convicted in January in a stabbing that sent two people to the hospital in a fight with Mongols members at the 2011 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.