Both a former Hells Angels member and an associate responsible for the death of 26-year-old Danny Martinez in August of 2011 will spend at least the next decade in state prison.
After an 11-1 hung jury forced the prospect of a new trial and the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison, 34-year-old Hells Angels “hang around” Brandon Gann accepted a plea deal with prosecutors in which he plead guilty to manslaughter with gang and firearm enhancements in exchange for an 18-year sentence.
Prosecutors alleged that after driving Gann’s girlfriend’s white SUV up to the motorcycle shop that Martinez’ cousin owned on Ideal Parkway just outside of Manteca’s eastern border – ramming the bikes that the two men were sitting on at the time – that a fight amongst the four ensued. It was then they believe that Gann went back to the vehicle and produced a handgun and fired several shots including those that wounded Isaac Martinez and killed his 26-year-old cousin.
The fight was part of a back-and-forth between the Hells Angels and the Most Envied Motorcycle Club – a Modesto-based group – that both the men that were shot had ties to.
Gann’s accomplice, former Hells Angels chapter Sergeant-at-Arms Johnny Splan, had already agreed to testify against Gann at trial in exchange for a 15-year plea deal for attempted murder with a gang enhancement. Ironically his testimony wasn’t enough to secure a conviction for prosecutor Kevin Mayo.
Gann, who wasn’t a full-patch member at the time of the killing, then drove his girlfriend’s car up to his in-laws house in Manton where he scrubbed it down of any evidence that may have been in it and washed the clothes that he was wearing that night. He spent several days there before heading to a Hells Angels compound near Whiskeytown Reservoir. He was eventually apprehended in Oakdale.
Mayo spent a portion of Gann’s trial showing the jury photo after photo of Hells Angels insignia that was discovered when a search warrant was served on a house in Stanislaus County that the men were believed to have had ties to and spent a great deal of time showing their links to the outlaw motorcycle club – argued by some as an organization of “brothers” that just like to ride together but viewed by law enforcement as an organized criminal enterprise.
Proving the connection was a huge part of the gang enhancement charge that will ensure that both men will serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.
The number of cases involving such groups actually reaching the prosecutorial level, however, is rare. Splan’s decision to turn against Gann in the case was unexpected because members rarely talk to police.
It took a grand jury indictment to get the case, which was a multi-jurisdictional effort headed by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, off the ground.