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2 men guilty of role in 5 deaths

The alleged leaders of the violent Aryan Brotherhood prison gang face terms of life without parole for ordering the killings.

January 10, 2007|Jessica Garrison | Times Staff Writer

A federal jury on Tuesday found two men guilty of racketeering for ordering a string of killings from behind bars in an effort to make the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang more disciplined and powerful.

Robert "Blinky" Griffin, 58, and John "Youngster" Stinson, 52, could each be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

That sentence would be moot for Stinson, who is already serving a life sentence for a Long Beach murder. But Griffin, who has been in prison since 1970 for robbery and stabbing an inmate in the eye, could be eligible for parole unless he is sentenced to additional time.

Both men have been serving time in Pelican Bay State Prison, north of Crescent City, Calif.

The men were found guilty of orchestrating the murders of five men and the attempted murder of three others in the 1980s and '90s. They were found not guilty of one allegation of orchestrating an attempted murder.

Stinson was also found guilty of two additional charges of greater involvement in two murders.

Neither man was accused of killing any of the homicide victims. Prosecutors said the two inmates had ordered the killings.

Both men, who have appeared in court in sweaters and pressed shirts that their attorneys later carried out because such clothes are not allowed in prison, sat expressionless as the list of guilty decisions against them were read.

Attorney Michael Crain said he would be seeking a new trial for Griffin, who he said renounced the Aryan Brotherhood nearly 20 years ago. Crain said he could not understand why jurors did not take into account testimony from prison officials attesting to that.

"The whole thing is mind-boggling," Crain said. "I don't know what more could have been presented."

Lawyers for Stinson also criticized the government's case, which included testimony from admitted murderers and perjurers.

The defense argued that prosecutors conflated random murders into a conspiracy and that many of the government's witnesses testified in exchange for money and less-restrictive housing.

Prosecutors said the witnesses have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the violent gang. They said they were pleased with the verdict rendered in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Sentencing for Griffin and Stinson was set for May 14.

This was the second major trial resulting from a 2002 indictment intended to break up the gang, which started in California but has spread to the rest of the country.

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jessica.garrison@latimes.com

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