WJLA TV/September 16, 2006
Santa Ana, California -- For six months, two notorious Aryan Brotherhood kingpins sat before a jury that held the power to sentence them to death. The jury had convicted Barry "The Baron" Mills and Tyler "The Hulk" Bingham of murder, racketeering and conspiracy in July. But when it came time to impose a sentence they could not reach a verdict. Jurors said Friday they were deadlocked and Mills and Bingham will now serve life in prison. Federal prosecutors insisted the mistrial in the penalty phase was not a defeat for the government and said they were happy with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for both defendants.
"Until 1994, there was no federal death penalty for these people and they killed ... knowing that nothing could ever happen to them," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Wolfe. "But when next faced with the decision of whether they should kill, they'll know that they'll have to face the death penalty again. And I hope they will be thinking about it."
The jury convicted Mills and Bingham in July of multiple charges of murder, racketeering and conspiracy in a case involving 17 murders and attempted murders dating back nearly 30 years.
Jurors were then asked, in a separate proceeding, to determine whether Mills, 58, and Bingham, 59, should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On Thursday, jurors told U.S. District Judge David O. Carter they were deadlocked following 3 1/2 days of deliberations and he ordered them back to the jury room to try to resolve their differences.
After another day, they announced it would not be possible to reach a unanimous decision.
"We are honestly and conscientiously unable to agree after a full consideration of the evidence," the foreman said in a note sent to the judge.
The case against Mills and Bingham was part of a larger indictment that federal prosecutors hope will eventually dismantle the Aryan Brotherhood, the violent white supremacist organization accused of running powerful gambling operations and drug rings from inside some of the nation's most notorious prisons.
Among other things, the jury convicted Mills and Bingham of inciting a race riot at a prison in Lewisburg, Pa., in 1997 by conspiring to send a secret message to Aryan Brotherhood members saying, "War with DC Blacks, TD," a reference to the rival DC Blacks prison gang.
Frank Joyner and Abdul Salaam, alleged members of the DC Blacks, were killed during the uprising.
Defense attorneys argued that one of the reasons jurors should spare the defendants' lives was because the inmate who actually killed the two black prisoners struck a deal with prosecutors. Under the deal, he was sentenced to nine years in prison and testified in the trial against Mills and Bingham.
Charges against the pair were brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, and they were convicted of offenses known as Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering - laws originally passed to target the Mafia. The so-called VICAR verdicts made Mills and Bingham eligible for the death penalty.
Experts say the full indictment, which lists 32 murders and attempted murders, makes up one of the largest federal capital punishment cases in U.S. history.