A Fort Worth jury has found the reputed leader of the Bandidos motorcycle group guilty of murder, engaging in organized crime and directing the activities of a criminal street gang.
Howard Baker was on trial in the December 2014 death of Geoff Brady, a member of the rival Ghost Riders.
Baker, 62, faces up to life in prison.
When the verdict was announced, Baker showed little emotion but family members sitting behind him sobbed quietly.
The jury found Baker not guilty of the most minor charge – being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
In closing arguments Friday, prosecutors described how as president of the local Bandidos group, Baker ordered the murder of Brady in a dispute over the motorcycle groups' turf.
“It was his plan,” said assistant Tarrant County District Attorney Allena Bangs, pointing to Baker. “He called it.”
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The prosecutor said members of the Bandidos were following Baker’s order when they stormed Gator’s sports bar on Race Street in Fort Worth.
“They were in for a fight and when you take guns and knives to a fight, people die,” she said.
Defense attorneys painted a much different picture of Baker and described the Bandidos as a motocycle “club” – not a gang.
“They have brought you nothing,” defense attorney Tim Choy said of the prosecution’s case. “Where is the evidence?”
Choy portrayed Baker as a family man with a city job. He worked at the Will Rogers Colliseum.
“All they’ve proven is Howard Baker is a member of the Bandidos,” he said. “It’s not a crime to be a member of the Bandidos.”
Baker did not testify in the trial.
Witnesses testified they saw him at the murder scene and at least one said he had a gun in his hand.
Security had been heavy for the trial at the Tarrant County Courthouse all week. A large number of state troopers were helping to guard the building and portable video cameras were set up on the streets outside.
After the verdict, Choy told reporters he was disappointed in the verdict but thanked jurors for their service.
Lead prosecutor Pam Boggess said she hoped the verdict would send a message that people who engage in organized crime and operate criminal gangs will be brought to justice.
Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday morning.