Court allows biker statements in gang shootout

DAYTONA BEACH — More than three years after a shootout between rival motorcycle gangs in Seminole County left three bikers dead, including one from Tavares, an appeals court Friday rejected a gang member's arguments that police improperly got information from him before reading required Miranda rights.

The ruling by the 5th District Court of Appeal overturned a lower-court decision that suppressed statements of David "Tin Man" Maloney, a member of the gang known as the Philly Warlocks who faces an attempted-murder charge.

The Philly Warlocks and a rival gang known as the Florida Warlocks got into a shootout in September 2012 outside a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Winter Springs, resulting in the deaths of three members of the Florida Warlocks, according to Friday's ruling.

Killed were Harold “Lil’ Dave” Liddle, 46, of Tavares, David “Dresser Dave” Jakiela, 52, of Orlando and Peter “Hormone” Schlette, 50, from Denham Springs, Lousiana.

Liddle, who at one time had an address on Arbour Lake Drive in Leesburg, was identified by the Florida Warlocks as a Lake County patch holder, meaning he belonged to the club’s local chapter here. Both Schlette and Jakiela were identified as belonging to the “Mother Chapter” in Orlando.

None was carrying a gun at the time of the shooting.

Police handcuffed 30 to 40 people at the scene, including Maloney, and seized a .22-caliber Derringer pistol and a knife from him. Winter Springs police Sgt. Brad Heath also noticed that Maloney was wearing an empty gun holster and questioned whether he had other weapons.

Maloney said he had a .380-caliber Ruger pistol, which had been dropped in the parking lot during the shooting, Friday's ruling said. Maloney had not been read his Miranda rights at the time and later moved to suppress statements given to the police officer. The reading of Miranda rights informs people in custody that they have a right to remain silent and avoid providing self-incriminating information.

While a circuit judge agreed to suppress Maloney's statements, a three-judge panel of the appeals court pointed to what it said is a "public safety exception" to the Miranda rights requirement.

The 11-page ruling described a "chaotic" scene outside the VFW hall.

"(The) sheer number of persons being detained constituted an extraordinary circumstance posing an imminent risk to law enforcement and the public. … Indeed, there were still 30 to 40 people being detained outdoors in a public, open area adjacent to the parking lot of the VFW when Sgt. Heath questioned Maloney,'' said the appeals-court ruling, written by Judge Wendy Berger and joined by judges Vincent Torpy and Brian Lambert.

"The trial court's analysis does not account for these facts or for the fact that the missing weapon could have been anywhere, including places where it might be accessible to Maloney, another detainee, a passerby, or even a child."

The ruling said Maloney was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. He was acquitted of all of the charges except one count of attempted first-degree murder. The jury could not reach a verdict on that charge, and the state is seeking to retry him, the ruling said.

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