COURT WATCH: Death Penalty Ruled Out in Federal Case against Aryan Brotherhood – Defense Attorney Calls DP ‘Barbaric,’ ‘Discriminatorily Applied’

PC: Nathan Hughes Hamilton
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By The Vanguard Staff

SACRAMENTO, CA – The Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, charged with prison murders and other crimes while incarcerated at California prisons, dodged the federal death penalty it was learned Monday in U.S. District Court here after the U.S. Dept. of Justice weighed in on the case.

According to at least one defense attorney, John Balazs, “The death penalty is barbaric, often discriminatorily applied, risks executing innocent persons, and has been abolished in most countries worldwide. It has no place in our U.S. legal system,” the Sacramento Bee wrote.

“Federal prosecutors overseeing a sprawling racketeering indictment against members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang…revealed Monday that they will not seek the death penalty in the case,” said The Bee.

“The United States provides notice that it will not seek the death penalty in this case against defendants Ronald Yandell, William Sylvester, Pat Brady, Jason Corbett, and Brant Daniel,” according to the notice from the U.S. Attorneys working on the case.

The decision comes after the matter was sent to Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., and precedes a hearing in the case later this week. Trial is set for Feb. 26.

“The Brant Daniel defense team is pleased the government announced that it is not seeking the death penalty against any of the five death-eligible defendants,” said Balazs, an attorney for Daniel, who is accused in the October 2016 slaying of Salinas Valley State Prison Zachary Scott.

Balazs added, “It would have had to come from the capital case committee in D.C. They are the ones that make an authorization decision and under the current protocol they are allowed to make a decision of no death penalty without going to the attorney general.

“If there’s a recommendation for the death penalty then the AG has to sign off, so it’s possible they went to the AG with a recommendation and the AG said no. But it’s more likely it would be that the capital case committee decided not to seek the death penalty and notified (U.S. Attorney Phil) Talbert,” the Bee quoted Balazs as saying.

The Bee noted the “case stems from a 2019 indictment of Aryan Brotherhood members and leaders, and a subsequent December 2022 murder indictment that made the five defendants eligible for the death penalty.”

“This superseding indictment strikes at the heart of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang with five defendants now facing murder charges that carry with them the possibility of the death penalty,” Talbert said in a statement at the time, quoted the Bee.

Talbert added, “This white supremacist gang plagues our communities inside and outside prison and are responsible for some of the most brutal crimes committed within prison walls.”

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