OGDEN — A number of motions and arguments were ruled on Monday in the case of alleged members of the Titanic Crip Society, or TCS, an alleged Ogden street gang accused of being a criminal conspiracy.
All six defendants — Tamer Ahmed Hebeishy, 34; Sharif Ahmed Hebeishy, 37; Sadat Ahmed Hebeishy, 36; Daniel Ray Lopez, 27; Brock Pickett, 31; and Jaron Michael Sadler, 23 — were charged in June 2016 under the Utah's version of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, also known as RICO.
On Monday, attorneys and all six defendants were in an Ogden court to determine several motions filed in the case.
First, Tamer Hebeishy's attorney Randall Richards argued to have two predicate offenses dropped. Predicate offenses are prior charges that contribute to a larger criminal offense.
Richards said a 2008 charge found in the indictment was adjudicated as a third-degree felony count of riot, but was stated in the indictment as an aggravated assault. Richards also argued that the statute of limitations disqualified the charge from being eligible in the Utah Pattern of Unlawful Activity Act, which is the tool being used against the alleged gang members.
Richards argued that the other predicate offense, which involved an alleged assault at the Utah State Prison, should be thrown out because the charge was only an allegation and Tamer Hebeishy was never prosecuted for the attack.
Judge Ernie Jones rejected the arguments made by Richards, saying there is no statute of limitations under the Utah law. Jones said elements of a crime are relevant to prove a pattern of unlawful activity.
Another motion that was ruled upon during the Monday hearing was the state's motion to admit photos of the the six men's tattoos as evidence of gang affiliation.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Branden Miles argued the tattoos of the defendants indicates "significant commitment" to the alleged gang.
Richards countered that idea, saying tattoos are fairly permanent and just because a defendant has a tattoo linked to TCS doesn't mean they "still believe" what the tattoo suggests.
Richards argued that showing the tattoos as evidence could have a prejudicial effect on the jury, and argued that 60 percent of Utah residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the LDS Church believe tattoos show a lack of respect for themselves and for God, Richards said.
Jones later accepted the state's motion to admit the tattoos as evidence, and said the prejudicial effect described by Richards could be avoided during the jury selection process.
Toward the end of the hearing, Daniel Lopez walked to the stand and requested a different public defender. Lopez said that his court-appointed attorney, Randall Marshall, has been unresponsive to calls and requests by Lopez to visit him in prison to fill out paperwork.
Jones told Lopez he can't pick and choose his public defender, and can either hire private counsel or represent himself.
Jones' statement caused one woman to storm out of the courtroom, and told the judge, "Why would I stay and watch an unfair trial?"
Before leaving, a bailiff told the woman not to return to the courtroom.
Sadat Hebeishy's attorney, Paul Remy, asked to be withdrawn as counsel, which Jones accepted as long as another public defender be appointed to Hebeishy's case as soon as possible.
The six defendants have court dates set for August, October and December for a variety of hearings relating to the case.
Sharif Hebeishy posted bail in January 2018 and is not in state custody. Sadat Hebeishy is being held at the Weber County Jail. The four other defendants Hebeishy, Sadler, Pickett and Lopez are in the custody of the Utah Department of Corrections.