Acts of brutality and callous retribution among the nation’s most hardened criminals provide the bedrock of the largest capital case filed in U.S. history, against Aryan Brotherhood leaders, which will in courtrooms in Los Angeles and Santa Ana, Ca., in the coming weeks, says the Los Angeles Times. At least eight convicts, some already serving life sentences and doomed to spend their days in solitary confinement, may get the death penalty if convicted of murder in the federal racketeering trials. Prosecutors are still deciding whether to seek the death penalty for eight others.
The case, which involves 32 counts of murder and attempted murder, is designed to dismantle the Aryan Brotherhood in much the same way the feds took apart the mob decades ago. Prosecutors hope the sheer number of gang members they have been able to turn into informants will cripple the Brotherhood. Defense attorneys said the government’s case is flawed, resting on the premise that inmates locked in solitary confinement can operate an elaborate interstate criminal enterprise and that prison snitches are reliable sources. Inmate attorneys want to suppress the testimony of informants they say were housed together at a “supermax” federal penitentiary in Florence, Co. The defense says “the snitches” were coached by prosecutors and provided with information so they could be convincing on the witness stand. Defense attorneys say informants were bribed with pornographic magazines, restaurant meals, Nike shoes, video game players and, in one case, a sexual rendezvous.