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Kingsmen biker to jury: ‘He was scared. Kingsmen sitting just a few feet away, it’s a safe bet Jimmy Ray Fritts wanted to be anywhere but on a witness stand in Buffalo.

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Source: The Buffalo News


With three of his fellow Kingsmen sitting just a few feet away, it’s a safe bet Jimmy Ray Fritts wanted to be anywhere but on a witness stand in Buffalo.

He didn’t want to testify that Andre Jenkins, one of his “brothers” on trial, admitted to the double murder at the core of the case.

And Fritts certainly didn’t want to tell a jury that former Kingsmen President David Pirk ordered the 2014 killings.

At the constant prodding of prosecutors, Fritts, a Kingsmen Motorcycle Club member from Tennessee, testified that Pirk’s involvement became evident during a near-fatal confrontation between Jenkins and four Kingsmen angry over the assassination-style murders in North Tonawanda.

“He walked in and we pulled our weapons,” he told the jury. “He was scared. I would be, too.”

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Now 68, Fritts said that Jenkins, upon seeing the drawn guns, claimed the killings were in self-defense and begged them to make one phone call before killing him.

“He said, call Dave Pirk,” Fritts told the jury.

He said Michael Long, one of the four Kingsmen inside the Tennessee clubhouse that day, did what Jenkins asked and called the then-national Kingsmen president.

“We’re fixing to kill him,” Long told Pirk, according to Fritts. “Are you good with that?”

“What did Pirk say?” asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi.

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“He said, ‘Let him go,’ ” Fritts answered.

Fritts’ testimony is the latest chapter in a three-month trial revolving around Pirk’s role in the murders of Kingsmen Paul Maue and Daniel “DJ” Szymanski in September of 2014.

Pirk, Jenkins and former club Vice President Timothy Enix are charged with planning the murders. Jenkins is already serving life without parole after a state court conviction connected to the killings.

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Pirk, Jenkins and former club Vice President Timothy Enix are charged with planning the murders. Jenkins is already serving life without parole after a state court conviction connected to the killings.

Over the course of four days last week, Fritts took the jury through his encounters with Pirk and Jenkins in the days leading up to and after the murders.

Under cross-examination, he also admitted lying to law enforcement and a federal grand jury about those same conversations. He even acknowledged lying while on the witness stand last week.

“You don’t keep a diary of your lies, do you?” defense attorney Barry N. Covert asked Fritts.

“No,” said Fritts.

“There wouldn’t be a diary big enough on earth, would there?” Covert asked.

Eager to challenge Fritts’ credibility, the defense asked him about his years as a drug dealer — he sold pills and marijuana — and his practice of hiring people to beat up male and female customers who didn’t pay up.

They also questioned him about his love of guns — he acknowledges owning about 60 over a three-year period ending in 2016 — and why he sold Jenkins the handgun used to kill Maue and Szymanski.

In the end, Covert and defense attorney William T. Easton suggested that Fritts’ account of what Pirk and Jenkins told him is fiction intended to bolster the government’s case.

“You made that up to help yourself and get a better deal with the government, correct?” Covert asked.

Fritts said no, and he insisted he is now telling the truth about what happened to Maue and Szymanski on that September morning nearly four years ago.

He said Jenkins initially told him that Filip Caruso was the intended target. Caruso, Maue and Szymanski were part of a faction that confronted Pirk and Enix during an incident at the South Buffalo clubhouse weeks before the murder.

“He said, yes, he was going to New York to eliminate Filly,” Fritts told the jury.

After the murders, Fritts said he saw Jenkins again and was told that Jenkins couldn’t get Caruso alone so he opted to kill Maue and Szymanski. He said Pirk believed the two Kingsmen were in cohoots with Caruso and were leaking information to the Nickel City Nomads, a rival biker club.

“He said he shot Maue in the back of the head and D.J. in the neck,” he said of Jenkins last week.

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Early on in his testimony, Fritts admitted lying to the grand jury that later indicted Pirk, Jenkins and Enix and suggested his perjury was rooted, in part, in a conversation he had with Pirk the night before his court appearance.

It was at the Kingsmen clubhouse in Arcade and, according to Fritts, the message was crystal clear.

“You know how to answer the questions,” Pirk said, according to Fritts.

When asked what Pirk meant, he said it was the president’s way of reminding him to lie if necessary.

Fritts, under cross examination, acknowledged that Pirk never once mentioned murder in their conversations.

“There was never any words from Pirk about killings,” Easton asked him.

“No,” Fritts said.

“No words about even hurting anyone,” Easton asked.

“Not from him,” Fritts answered. “No, not directly.”

Even though he was testifying as a government witness, it was clear from the outset that Fritts was uncomfortable pointing the finger at Pirk and Jenkins.

Even Tripi grew frustrated with his witness at times, especially when it seemed Fritts was holding back damaging information about Pirk and Jenkins.

“Was that question confusing?” Tripi asked at one point, his voice growing louder.

“No,” said Fritts.

“Then start answering the questions,” Tripi responded.

At the core of the government’s case is the allegation that Pirk ordered the murders outside the group’s North Tonawanda clubhouse as a message to rival Kingsmen.

Prosecutors say Pirk, a longtime Kingsmen and North Tonawanda native, was promoting an effort to turn the club into a criminal organization, or “one-percent” club.

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