Dec. 22—TRINITY — A state appellate court upheld on Tuesday a Trinity man’s murder conviction in a shooting that came after he confronted two members of a rival biker gang.
Michael Isaac Russ, 42, formerly of Colonial Circle, was convicted in July 2019 of second-degree murder in the death of Larry Wayne Campbell, 27, of Denton.
Russ, a member of the Hell’s Angels, confronted Campbell and Roy Pruitt, members of the Iron Patriots, on Dec. 22, 2017, in a restaurant parking lot along N.C. 62 in Trinity.
Russ blocked the two men’s motorcycles with his own truck, the men had words, Russ walked around the front of his truck with a loaded gun, saw a gun in Campbell’s hand and shot Campbell three times, according to the court record cited by the appellate court. Russ also fired a round at Pruitt but missed. Campbell died at the scene.
Russ appealed his conviction, arguing that the judge should not have allowed testimony by other members of the Iron Patriots or by an expert on biker gang interaction and conflicts, but the appeals court ruled that the testimony was necessary for the jury to understand the underlying conflict behind the confrontation.
According to testimony at Russ’ trial, a portion of the Iron Patriots’ leather jackets that once had read “Band of Brothers” was changed to “North Carolina,” the same as on the jackets of the Hell’s Angels, which angered members of the Hell’s Angels.
The expert witness testified that it is customary for a smaller club in a region — in this case the Iron Patriots — to seek permission from the region’s dominant club before changing their jackets, and the Iron Patriots adding “North Carolina” to their jackets signified that the club was claiming the state as its own territory.
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