ST. GEORGE – Another round of preliminary hearings surrounding an alleged riot that resulted in a stabbing last year went through the 5th District Court Monday. Of the three cases to be heard, one was dismissed, one was continued, and the judge determined there was enough evidence in the other to move it forward.
Some of the individuals accused of being involved in the riot are alleged to be members of a motorcycle gang that engages in criminal activity. These individuals, and their lawyers, have denied the characterization, claiming they simply belong to an area motorcycle club and not a gang.
Details on the riot and arrests can be found here.
Individuals who appeared in court Monday were Scott Arthur Wells, David Delmar Mangold and Chase Edward Smith. Wells and Mangold are members of the Eastside motorcycle club, while Mangold belongs to the Brothers of Legion motorcycle club.
Wells and Mangold’s preliminary hearings were to he heard together Monday afternoon, but due to a communications mishap, Mangold and his lawyer had the day of the hearing confused. While Mangold was able to make it to court, his lawyer was not. This resulted in Judge Jeffery C. Wilcox continuing Mangold’s hearing to April 20.
Wells’ hearing went forward.
St. George Police Detective Aaron Bergquist, the case’s investigating officer, was called to testify for the state. The detective largely repeated testimony he had given in previous hearings involving other suspects tied to the case.
Bergquist reiterated that the Eastside motorcycle club “is being investigated as a gang” by St. George Police due to the riot and stabbing incident, as well as its association with the larger club in South Carolina where authorities suspect the club as a whole to be engaged in criminal activity.
One of the marks of a gang, Bergquist said, is that it is seemingly mandatory for members to do things together – like getting into fights. This is alleged to have happened in the Aug. 24, 2014, incident.
Bergquist said Wells told him in an interview following the riot that he and another club member had been outside of The One and Only Watering Hole at N. 800 East and St. George Boulevard in St. George when they heard two other men mocking the motorcycle clubs. At some point Wells went back inside. While inside, others members of the Eastside and Brothers of Legion club went outside and punches began to be thrown.
Wells told the detective he ended in the middle of the fight, but was trying to get people off of each other instead of hitting anyone, Bergquist said.
During the fight, one of the two men, who had allegedly mocked the motorcycle clubs, was stabbed under the armpit and ultimately taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George for treatment. Thus far it has not been established for certain who threw the first punch or stabbed the man.
Aside from his own testimony to police about being at The One and Only bar at the time of the fight, Wells was also seen on surveillance footage prior to the incident and also pointed out by witnesses at the scene, Bergquist said.
Wilcox ruled there was enough evidence to move Wells’ case forward on a charge of third-degree felony riot. An arraignment hearing has been set for May 7.
Smith, who was set to have his preliminary hearing Monday morning, had the charges against him dismissed.
In all, 12 people were arrested in connection to the August 2014 incident who are either members of, or associated with the Eastside and Brothers of Legion motorcycle clubs.
In addition to Smith, Wells and Mangold, others arrested and charged with third-degree felony riot were Zachery Babcock, Brent Taylor, David Davenport, Austin Wesley Sharp, Steven Perry Neal, Zachary Ross Humphries, John Thomas Benyo, Ramsey Joseph Campos and Heather Sheppick.
Benyo and Davenport previously had their preliminary hearings and were ruled by the judge to have evidence to move forward. Benyo pleaded not guilty to the riot charge while an arraignment hearing for Davenport has been set for April 16.
Still awaiting preliminary hearings are Humphries, Campos, Mangold and Babock.
Taylor, Neal, Sharp and Sheppick, in addition to Smith, have had the riot charge against them dismissed.
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