Last defendant in Winter Springs biker gang shootout expected to take a plea

SANFORD – Four years ago, two rival motorcycle gangs got into a shootout in the parking lot of the VFW hall in Winter Springs. When it ended, three people lay dead, all of them members of the same gang: The Florida Warlocks.

This afternoon, the last suspect charged in those slayings is expected to enter a plea, bringing to an end four criminal cases that resulted in five jury trials.

David "Tinman" Maloney, 56, of Longwood will be in court, charged with one count of attempted murder.

His first trial ended in a mistrial, and when he was retried, a Seminole County jury found him not guilty of two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, but it could not decide on one remaining count: whether he had tried to murder another member of the rival gang who survived.

That's the reason for today's plea hearing.

All of the defendants were members of Maloney's break-away biker group, the Philly Warlocks.

Maloney had been a member of the Florida Warlocks but was thrown out, so he started his own club.

The shootout happened Sept. 30, 2012, when the two groups came face to face.

Maloney's new group was sponsoring a charity ride, and five members of his old gang showed up at the starting point: the VFW hall in Winter Springs.

Prosecutors argued that Maloney and his allies ambushed the victims.

Maloney and his allies argued that they'd acted in self-defense, but his group fired the first shot, and they were armed with 15 guns vs. two for the rival group.

Paul "the Dog" Smith, 51, of Effingham, S.C., a member of Maloney's group, fired the first shot. He was charged with three counts of murder, but jurors found him not guilty.

Witnesses testified that Smith shot rival biker Peter Schlette in the shoulder, knocking him to the ground, and when Schlette stood up and cursed him, shot him in the head. Schlette, of Denham Springs, La., died. He was unarmed.

Two other Maloney allies were convicted of murder and are serving long prison terms. They are Victor Amaro, 45, of Winter Springs, who was sentenced to life in prison for two counts of second-degree murder; and Robert Eckert, 42, of Longwood, who was sentenced to 27 years in prison for two counts of manslaughter and two counts of attempted murder.

Also killed that day were David Jakeila, 52, an Orlando architect, and Harold Liddle, 46 of Tavares.

Check back for updates.

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Rene Stutzman
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orlandosentinel.com




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