Federal jurors considering the first homicide at the nation’s highest-security prison were told yesterday about a gang-leader feud that resulted in a vicious prison-yard beating, reports the Denver Post. Prosecutors and defense attorneys presented opening statements in the first-degree-murder case against Silvestre “Chikali” Rivera, who is accused of fatally stomping and beating Mexican Mafia prison gang leader Manuel “Tati” Torrez, 64, on April 21, 2005. Rivera and accomplice Richard “Chuco” Santiago are accused of killing Torres in a caged exercise yard at Administrative Maximum U.S. Penitentiary, or ADX, in Florence,Co.
In court, Rivera looked more like a grandfatherly businessman with carefully feathered salt-and-pepper gray hair and a well-manicured mustache than a convicted bank robber and associate of the Mexican Mafia, one of the most violent prison gangs in the U.S. He wore a black-and-white-checkered dress shirt and gray slacks. “You are going to hear testimony from witnesses who are professional killers who kill on the command of the gang,” defense attorney David Lane warned the jury, which some members felt skittish about serving on. “You are going to see graphic stuff in this trial. You will see videotapes where the defendant and an accomplice stomp a man to death.” As a safety precaution, jurors were identified by four-digit numbers and their initials only.