David R. “Gutter” Donovan, 40, of the Kingsmen Motorcycle Club, was shot multiple times in a confrontation with the Outlaws at a Circle K convenience store in Leesburg.
TAVARES — Prosecutors have dropped charges against four Outlaws motorcycle gang members who were scheduled to stand trial Monday in the murder of a rival club member during the 2017 Leesburg Bikefest.
“The credibility of the witnesses to these events is lacking such that the case cannot be proven beyond and to the exclusion of every possible doubt,” Assistant State Attorney Emily Curington said in a memo on Thursday.
David R. “Gutter” Donovan, 40, of the Kingsmen Motorcycle Club, was shot multiple times in a confrontation with the Outlaws at the Circle K convenience store at 3300 W. Main St. He had gone to the store with two other Kingsmen around 8 p.m. to buy cigars.
There were 15 to 20 Outlaws in the parking lot, including Marc “Knott Head” Knotts, 50, of Ocala, and Miguel Angel Torres, 39, of Rockledge, who were scheduled to go on trial Monday.
The Kingsmen said the Outlaws were demanding that they support their gang or disband.
“They kept trying to get us to go around the back of the building and talk, which we’re not stupid, we know what they’re trying to do, especially when you can see them kind of peekabooing around the corner,” said Justin Milicic in a sworn statement. “It was basically set to be an ambush for us. We made it clear we were not leaving the camera’s sight, because if they were going to kill us, at least it would be on camera.”
The Outlaws forced them to go around to the side of the store. They said the Outlaws were trying to rip off Donovan’s vest with his “colors” or “cut” club patches and that one of them was holding a knife to his throat when someone yelled, “Shoot that [expletive].”
Milicic and Kingsmen members Shawn Keairns and Bryan Larrabee ran into the store. Milicic opened the door and fired his handgun into the parking lot, hitting Knotts three times.
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These are the known facts. Kingsmen have given contradictory stories, even contradicting their own testimony. And although two guns were recovered at the scene police were never able to find the murder weapon.
Keairns, for example, first identified Umphress with a gun in his hand, but later said it was Torres.
Larrabee gave a sworn statement saying that Umphress took his gun and his vest off his person, but later said the gun was in his motorcycle saddlebag.
Milicic was asked in a deposition in 2017 if Donovan was able to get a shot off.
“I think he did, but we never recovered any of his firearms. None of his guns were recovered from the scene.”
However, during a deposition on Sept. 5, Milicic admitted to Umphress’ attorney that he had Donovan’s gun.
The attorney asked Milicic to recall his testimony during Umphress’ bond hearing in July.
Q: “Do you remember what you said about that gun when I asked you?
A: “Yes sir”
Q: “What was it?”
A: “That I didn’t know where it was.”
Q: “Were you lying?”
A: “Yes sir.”
The trial could have provided a rare peek behind the scenes of motorcycle gangs.
“The Kingsmen, who pride themselves on being a nonaffiliated motorcycle club and thereby not aligned with any clubs that may be at odds with the Outlaws, did not believe themselves to be in any danger,” Leesburg police noted in their investigative report.
The Outlaws proudly call themselves one-percenters: “The one of a hundred of us who has given up on society and the politicians’ one-way law. That is why we look repulsive. We are saying we don’t want to be like you, or look like you, so stay out of our faces.”
Umphress’ fiancée described the Outlaws as a “brotherhood” during his bond hearing
“Well, what does that mean?” asked Assistant State Attorney Hugh Bass.
“Family,” she said.
“We’re a family club,” Milicic told police. “We don’t like to do those things. It’s not who we are,” he said.
“Most clubs, especially one percent clubs, the club is above everything else in your life, above your family, above your job. They don’t give a damn about any of that. Some of them you literally have to sign your house and bike and everything over to your club. And ours is different. It’s family comes first, job comes second, and then club.”
The federal Department of Justice doesn’t seem to see a distinction.
Last year, U.S. prosecutors in New York state convicted three Kingsmen of multiple charges in a major racketeering scheme, including murder: David Pirk, 68, of Eustis, who was listed as the national president; Timothy “Blaze” Enix, 59, national secretary/treasurer, from Eustis; and Andre “Little Bear” Jenkins, 40, of DeLand.
“The defendants and their associates transformed the Kingsmen Motorcycle Club into a vicious gang that terrorized the Buffalo area, engaging in senseless murders, brutal violence, robberies and drug trafficking,” a federal prosecutor said.
As for the Kingsmen in Leesburg that night, “they were hopeful that they would be able to talk their way out of violence, for which the Outlaws apparently have a long and well-deserved reputation,” police noted in their report.
Author Tony Thompson, who wrote the book “Outlaws” in 2011, quotes the FBI as saying motorcycle gangs make more than $1 billion in smuggling, drugs, prostitution, extortion and other crimes.
Attorneys were worried about pretrial publicity. Circuit Judge G. Richard Singletary signed a letter that went out to 1,500 prospective jurors urging them not to read or watch any news coverage about the case.
It was attached to a jury questionnaire, which asked, among other things, if they were motorcycle riders, had heard of the Outlaws or the Kingsmen, and if they had ever watched the TV shows, “Sons of Anarchy,” “Mayans” or “Gangland.”