11 Hells Angels Start Trial for Deadly Biker Brawl

Videotape images show rival motorcycle gang members wielding guns, knives, wrenches and chairs in a brawl that killed three and injured at least a dozen in a southern Nevada casino in 2002.

The footage is among hundreds of hours of videotape jurors may view during the trial of 11 Hells Angels charged in the deadly casino brawl.

Federal prosecutors are expected on Tuesday to tell jurors that the bikers plotted to attack the rival Mongols gang at the Harrah's Laughlin hotel-casino after years of friction erupted into violence at a crowded motorcycle rally.

They are the first of 42 men -- from California, Washington, Arizona, Alaska and Nevada, and ranging in age from 28 to 63 -- to stand trial in the brawl. All face the possibility of life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, racketeering-attempted murder.

Each has pleaded not guilty, and defense lawyers say the men will argue they were attacked first.

"The tapes are going to reveal clearly that the Hells Angels were threatened and were engaged in lawful self-defense," said lawyer David Chesnoff, who represents defendant Calvin Schaefer of Chandler, Ariz.

Chesnoff has argued previously that police knew trouble was brewing and federal agents missed a chance to prevent violence at the 2002 Laughlin rally, an annual event that draws tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to the Colorado River resort town about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

Two Hells Angels were shot to death and a Mongols member died of stab wounds at the event. Another Hells Angels member was later found shot to death near his wrecked Harley-Davidson motorcycle on Interstate 40 in California, about 100 miles from Laughlin.

Court officials say the trial could take three months or more, with 11 defense lawyers questioning witnesses.

Federal prosecutors declined comment Monday through a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Las Vegas.

One defendant in the case remains a fugitive.