Gang trial defendant fatally shot in Utah court by U.S. marshal

SALT LAKE CITY Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:15pm EDT

Siale Angilau, 25, an accused street gang member, is seen in a picture provided by the Utah Department of Corrections taken in February, 2012. REUTERS/Utah Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters

Siale Angilau, 25, an accused street gang member, is seen in a picture provided by the Utah Department of Corrections taken in February, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Utah Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters

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SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - An accused street gang member standing trial in federal court in Salt Lake City was shot to death by a deputy U.S. marshal on Monday as the defendant attacked a witness who was testifying against him, federal law-enforcement officials said.

Siale Angilau, 25, lunged at the witness wielding what appeared to be a pen or pencil in his hand, prompting a federal officer in the courtroom to open fire to halt the attack, according to Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

It is routine practice for federal trial defendants to be unrestrained when appearing before a jury, Rydalch said, and Angilau was not handcuffed.

The FBI said Angilau, who was struck in the chest by the marshal's gunfire, was still breathing when he was removed from the courtroom by stretcher, but later died of his wounds at a local hospital.

By then, U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell, who was presiding over the case, had declared a mistrial, citing the prejudicial effect the episode would have had on jurors who she said were left visibly "shaken and upset."

No one else was injured in the incident, which occurred during the opening day of testimony in the defendant's racketeering trial, Rydalch said.

The identity of the witness attacked by the defendant was not immediately available, but the judge described the individual as a "cooperating witness."

FBI assistant special agent-in-charge for the agency's Utah office, Mark Dressen, praised the response of federal marshals to the attack.

"The marshals did an exceptional job," Dressen said outside the courthouse. "They stopped the threat to the witness. The courtroom was fully secured at that time, and there's not additional threats to the community."

Angilau was the last of several alleged members and associates of the Tongan Crip Gang to stand trial on federal racketeering and other charges. About a half dozen co-defendants were convicted in 2011 and one was acquitted, Rydalch said.

(Reporting by Peg McEntee in Salt Lake City; Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Chizu Nomiyama and Mohammad Zargham)

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Comments (5)
Robert76 wrote:
Sounds like the Marshall did an excellent job of protecting the witness and the rest of the court room.

Wonder if this was the assailant’s way to get the mistrial? If he had been successful in killing the witness, would there still have been a mistrial?

Perhaps Gang Members on trial for violent crimes need to be treated as such and shackled so that they cannot initiate this kind of attack.

Now, his attorney will no doubt blame the Marshall for shooting his client, and try to sue for a quick payday?

Apr 21, 2014 4:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
FRPSR wrote:
Great neighbors , and fine community members . These outstanding individuals will be as sterling an addition to their new homes , at judicial discretion , as any cockroach that ever assisted in the spread salmonella , and domestic discomfort that have walked the Earth in these last 400 million years .
Just one little thing rankles , how is it possible to have failed to secured the defendant’s ? Is it just a matter of losing eye contact for a moment ?
If the order of the court can be threatened by as outrageous an event as this by a rogue opportunity making itself available through a staged distraction , defendants may need to be secured , before ventilation .

Apr 21, 2014 4:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
@Robert76 – how about you check up on this in a few weeks and see for yourself when the attorney doesn’t “sue for a quick payday.” Maybe then you can live on a little bit less ignorant about the US judicial system. My bet is that rather than following up for actual information, you’d rather just turn on some Limbaugh while you find a new story to make up bs facts about.

Ignorant drive-by commentators like Roberts just love to hate lawyers; most of them haven’t even met one.

Apr 21, 2014 5:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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