Ex-Vagos Leader Convicted Of Murdering Hells Angels President In CasinoAugust 8, 2013 11:44 am
Yesterday, ex-president of the Vagos motorcycle gang’s Nicaraguan chapter, Ernesto Gonzalez, was convicted of murdering Hells Angels San Jose boss Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew during a 2011 shootout at the John Ascuaga’s Nugget casino in Sparks, Nevada.
The Washoe District Court jury needed just five hours to return the guilty verdicts on all seven felony counts, including first degree murder, and now Ernesto Gonzalez faces the prospect of life behind bars without parole.
At the heart of Gonzalez’ defence was that he shot Pettigrew, 51, as a last resort because the Hells Angels San Jose boss and another gang member had been kicking the Vagos man while on the ground and he feared for his friend’s life. As Gonzalez explained during his testimony:
“I was trying to kill both [Hells Angels] because they were over my brother [fellow Vago]. They were kicking him. And they had a piece on them. Yes, I did [try to kill them]..It was either my brother got shot or them.”
Nevertheless, the jury rejected claims the ex-Vagos president had been acting in self-defense when he fatally shot Pettigrew during the fight, which also sent patrons at John Ascuaga’s Nugget casino diving for safety behind slot machines and blackjack tables.
Following the guilty verdict, Gonzalez’s attorney, David Houston, expressed surprise at the decision and said he had been sure the jury’s quick deliberation meant Gonzalez had been found innocent. Elaborating further, Houston said the prosecutors had tarred his client with a “very broad brush” and that sight had been lost that the case was of ‘the state vs Ernesto Gonzalez’ and had nothing to do with the Vagos motorcyle gang.
As attorney Houston, commented, later: “I’m still somewhat flummoxed that we could have resulted in a guilty verdict without so much as reviewing what I thought was a great deal of evidence..There simply wasn’t the time.”