Photo: Ernesto Gonzalez convicted of killing Hells Angels boss
After only five hours, a Nevada jury found Ernesto Gonzalez guilty of murdering a ember of a rival gang, the Hells Angels.
In September 2011, a shootout at a casino just outside Reno resulted in the death of Hells Angels San Jose boss Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew. The assassination was believed to have been orchestrated by Gonzalez, former president of the Nicaragua chapter of the Vagos motorcycle gang.
On Wednesday, Gonzalez, 55, was found guilty on each of the multiple counts he was facing: first- and second-degree murder, illegally carrying a concealed weapon, discharging a firearm inside a structure, challenging to fight resulting in death, and conspiring to commit murder.
Defense attorneys had argued Gonzalez shot and killed Pettigrew, 51, who was the fifth-ranking member in the U.S., in self-defense and even turned down the possibility of a lesser manslaughter conviction.
Gonzalez claimed the shootout began after he witnessed Pettigrew and other Hells Angels members kicking a member of the Vagos gang on the ground. Surveillance footage from John Ascuaga’s Nugget hotel and casino showed Gonzalez coming around a bar and shooting Pettigrew fives times in the back.
Jurors returned to court on Thursday to hear additional evidence to determine Gonzalez’s penalty. He now faces the maximum of life in prison without parole, however his attorney has vowed to appeal the jury’s speedy conviction, stating, “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.”