Gypsy Jokers’ defense hammers police on DNA

Robert Huggins' body was found in a rural field July 1, 2015

Robert Huggins, seen in a 2012 photo from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, was killed and dumped in a field in Clark County on July 1, 2015
Robert Huggins, seen in a 2012 photo from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, was killed and dumped in a field in Clark County on July 1, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — DNA evidence was questioned by one of the defense attorneys for 3 men accused of brutally kidnapping, torturing and killing a former Gypsy Joker motorcycle gang member and seeking to be released on bail.

Mark Dencklau, Earl Fisher and Tiler Pribbernow are each seeking bail. They are all charged with 2 counts of murder, one count of criminal conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder, 2 counts of criminal conspiracy to commit kidnapping and solicitation to commit first-degree kidnapping.

A fourth suspect, Malachi Watkins, is charged with one count of murder, 2 counts of first-degree kidnapping and 2 counts of criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree kidnapping. Watkins is being held on an unrelated case in Washington state.

The bail hearing started Monday and was scheduled to go on for 2 days. It stretched into its third day Wednesday as cross examinations continued. Closing arguments in the hearing were presented around 1:30 p.m.

DNA evidence questioned

4-box-huggins-mugsDefense attorney Alicia Hercher, who represents Fisher, pressed Portland Police Homicide Detective Jim Lawrence on Wednesday about DNA evidence during cross examination. She asked if the medical examiner found any biological evidence on Huggins’  body that linked her client or the other 3 suspects to the murder. Lawrence said no transfer evidence was found.

Police typically describe transfer evidence as any blood, fluids, hairs, fibers, paint or skin that is swapped between an attacker and the victim.

Lawrence said there may not have been any transfer evidence because Huggins’ blood likely “overwhelmed” any other blood or DNA evidence left behind.

Both Lawrence and Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Glen Banfield said in court that Huggins was kicked out of the gang because he was using heroin and stealing money from the group to support his habit.

Hercher said it appears the state’s evidence against her client consists primarily of cell phone data from incoming and outgoing calls that supposedly shows the rough locations of his phone around the time Huggins was kidnapped, tortured and killed.

“No physical or direct evidence has been offered… demonstrating that Mr. Fisher was involved with or present at either the abduction or torture and murder scene…” Hercher wrote in court documents. “Police have identified no evidence from DNA testing, fingerprints, or any other physical evidence linking Mr. Fisher to the abduction, torture or murder.”

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Gregory F. Silver could make his decision once testimony ends or he could take the defendants’ request for bail under advisement.

The case

Huggins was reportedly kidnapped late in the evening on June 30, 2015. The investigation began July 1, 2015 when Robert Lee Huggins’ body was found dumped in a field in Ridgefield, Washington, senior deputy district attorney Glen Banfield told the court earlier this week. Loggers found the body and called 911.

Clark County detectives were able to identify Huggins based on his tattoos.

The medical examiner ruled Huggins’ death a homicide.. His body had multiple stab wounds, crushed bones, lacerations on the torso, face, head and one of his nipples was completely removed. He also had nails driven through his boots.

Homicide Detective Jim Lawrence, the lead investigator on the case, testified that Huggins was stripped of his patch and kicked out of the gang. He was treasurer of the Gypsy Joker outlaw motorcycle gang, according to police and prosecutors.

The motive in Huggins’ death was linked to a home invasion robbery he was reportedly involved in. According to Lawrence, Huggins and 2 other men tied up Dencklau’s girlfriend at his Marion County residence. When the gang learned Huggins was involved, he was “green lit” and word began to spread that gang leaders wanted him brought in to be held accountable, according to Lawrence.

On Monday, Banfield showed Silver autopsy photos of Huggins body. The photos included fresh cutting wounds that he sustained while be tortured.

It is believed that Huggins was kicked out of the gang in 2014. When he was kicked out of the gang, members beat him and took his motorcycle and truck, according to Banfield’s statements in court. It is believed that being kicked out and the theft of his vehicles was a motivation for Huggins to seek revenge against the club.

When Dencklau’s home was burglarized in June 2015 and his girlfriend robbed, she told detectives that it was “one of the most traumatic and scariest experiences of her life,” according to an affidavit filed by the state. She was zip tied at gunpoint.

After Dencklau learned his girlfriend was zip tied, he returned home and had the national president of the Gypsy Joker gang with him. Fisher, the gang’s local vice president, was also present at the house, records show.

According to court documents, Pribbernow is a Gypsy Joker associate and is a member of the club known as the “Road Brothers.” On July 1, 2015, the day Huggins’ body was found, Pribbernow  reportedly called someone around 1:30 p.m. and began having cryptic conversations with her. The phone call was being recorded because the person Pribbernow was reportedly talking to was in custody. Records show that Pribbernow made statements about his alleged involvement in luring Huggins to the home in Northeast Portland where he was kidnapped.

Huggins was kidnapped from a residence in the area of Northeast 119th and Northeast Holladay. The home, according to Banfield, is a known drug house. Two people who called 911 reported hearing a man screaming and being hit with bats and/or pipes, according to Banfield.

A witness told police that Watkins was seen leaving the home where Huggins was kidnapped several times, and that he was seen talking on the phone. Watkins was then seen later in the evening returning to the home and taking Huggins’ vehicle.

KOIN 6 News will have more once a release determination is made.

 

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