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Federal prosecutors allege the gang committed murders, robberies and assaults to expand its operation in the Salt Lake Valley over two decades.
Court documents allege Siale Angilau was involved in an incident where bullets were fired at two U.S. marshals in August 2007, for which he had been serving time at the Utah State Prison. The racketeering case also linked Angilau to several violent convenience store robberies between 2002 and 2007.
Of the 16 other TCG members indicted in the racketeering case, six defendants took plea deals, six were convicted in September 2011 after a five-week trial, two were acquitted and charges were dismissed against two defendants in 2012.
Defense attorney Steven Killpack said it was his client, 31-year-old Vaiola Mataele Tenifa, who was on the witness stand when the attack occurred. But Killpack said Tuesday he did not witness the shooting because he had briefly left the courtroom to retrieve a file from his car.
Tenifa, who is serving up to 30 years at the Utah State Prison on 2001 convictions for robbery and aggravated assault, was not injured in the attack. Through his attorney, Tenifa on Tuesday declined a request for an interview.
Tenifa, according to court documents, is "a former, and recent, member of TCG" who agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
But Siale Angilau’s attorney filed a motion last week objecting to the inclusion of Tenifa’s testimony on the basis that, among other things, Tenifa had a "probable personal bias against Mr. Angilau."
According to the Langford’s motion, Tenifa was pulled into the case just two weeks before the start of the trial to implicate Angilau as an active member of the TCG.
"The cooperating witness [Tenifa] has an extensive criminal history, a tenuous or third-party relationship to the defendant, a relationship with the Tongan Crip Gangs distinct from Mr. Angilau, and probable personal bias against Mr. Angilau," Langford added.
Langford argued the defense team needed time to prepare which they were not given "to properly defend himself against a potentially devastating witness with highly suspect integrity, credibility and firsthand knowledge."
Although the jurors hearing Siale Angilau’s case were excused after the shooting, Judge Campbell signed an order Monday afternoon extending the term of service for the jury "until counseling is no longer needed."
In reaction to the courthouse shooting, the state prisons in Draper and Gunnison were put on lockdown Monday as a precaution.
By Tuesday afternoon, the lockdown had been lifted from some areas of the Draper prison, including the women’s facility. Other inmates in Draper and Gunnison are being given time out of their cells and access to telephones, but visitations remained suspended, according to the Utah Department of Corrections.
Reporter Tom Harvey contributed to this story.
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