Biker gang member released from prison; one co-defendant awaiting trial in VFW shootout

Paul Wayne "The Dog" Smith, the former Warlocks motorcycle gang member who fired the first shots in a gun battle in a Winter Springs VFW parking lot that left three people dead, has been released from state prison.

Smith, 51, was acquitted by a Seminole County jury of three counts of murder two years ago after testifying that he acted in self-defense Sept. 30, 2012, when he opened fire on an unarmed member of a rival biker group, killing him.

But what jurors did not know was that Smith should never have had a gun.

He was a convicted felon, a group that's prohibited from having firearms. They also did not know that police found drugs in his pocket – methamphetamine. After his acquittal on three murder charges and two attempted murder charges, he pleaded no contest to the gun and drug charges.

He did the same to a weapons charge in Lake County, a charge he was already facing at the time of the VFW shooting.

He was sentenced to three years in prison and was released May 25.

He told Florida corrections officials that he intended to move to Ninety Six, S.C.

There have been five trials in the VFW shooting case but it is still not closed. David Maloney, 56, of Longwood, the leader of Smith's break-away biker gang, is expected to go on trial in Sanford in a few weeks.

After a mistrial, he went on trial a second time two years ago and was acquitted of most of the charges against him: two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. But jurors could not decide whether he was guilty of another count of attempted murder for shooting toward rival bike gang member Brad Dyess.

Maloney testified that he was inside the VFW when he heard gunshots and rushed outside and opened fire.

"I figured they were there to kill me ... all of us," he testified.

'You shot me'

Smith, the defendant who just got out of prison, told jurors at his trial two years ago that members of the Warlocks had savagely beaten him the year before.

He knew Peter Schlette, 50, a trucker from Denham Springs, La., he said, and knew that he sometimes carried weapons.

On the day of the shootout Schlette was unarmed.

Schlette stepped off his motorcycle, Smith told jurors, and lunged toward him.

Other witnesses described it differently. Schlette stepped off his motorcycle, and Smith shot him in the shoulder, knocking Schlette to the ground.

Schlette then stood up, "he said, 'Really, [expletive]. You shot me,' " and Smith then shot him a second time, through the left eye, said witness Ronnie Mitchell.

Two other members of Smith and Maloney's break-away motorcycle gang are in prison. Victor Amaro, 45, was sentenced to life in prison for two counts of second-degree murder.

Robert Eckert, 42, is serving 27 years for two counts of manslaughter and two counts of attempted murder.

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Rene Stutzman
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orlandosentinel.com




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