SALINAS, Calif. – A 2016 murder at Salinas Valley State Prison was part of a statewide conspiracy by 16 members and associates of the Aryan Brotherhood, federal prosecutors reported Thursday.
Brant Daniel, 44, killed Zachary Scott, 36, Oct. 29, 2016, to further his status within the Aryan Brotherhood and the gang’s interests, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California said in a press release.
Daniel and eight other inmates have been charged with federal racketeering and other crimes at prisons across California. Six others, including an attorney who allegedly tried to smuggle drugs and cellphones into Folsom State Prison, also have been arrested or are being sought.
In a 143-page criminal complaint unsealed Thursday, prosecutors lay out how Daniel stabbed Scott 17 times with an 8-inch metal shank in his arms, torso and head — once so hard the weapon went through Scott’s back and pierced his chest.
‘I can’t breathe’
At about 9:30 a.m. Oct. 29, 2016, Daniel and Leonard Dunning, now 60, attacked Scott as he walked on Salinas Valley State Prison’s B Facility protective-custody yard.
They ignored commands to stop from prison guards, who initially thought the pair were using only their fists.
Scott fell to the ground as Daniel continued attacking and Dunning began stomping him, according to the complaint. They stopped once guards used tear gas to intervene.
Scott, his face and shirt covered in blood, stood up and took five steps before falling down again.
“He spit up blood and uttered, ‘I can’t breathe,'” the complaint says. “Scott died soon afterward.”
Daniel then yelled a threat to other people in the yard. He demanded they attack a “disfavored inmate” within the next 17 days to get transferred out of protective custody, according to the complaint.
“When Daniel addressed the ‘woods’ present on the B yard, he used a shortened version of the term ‘Peckerwoods,’ a common slang term for non-affiliated white inmates who are expected to function under the Aryan Brotherhood,” prosecutors said in the complaint.
Daniel also told guards he had planned to kill a second inmate, who had requested protective custody a few days before Scott’s murder, prosecutors said in the complaint.
Before the homicide, Daniel had been serving a sentence of life with the possibility of parole since Dec. 13, 2015, for first-degree attempted murder in Sacramento County. He is currently incarcerated at California State Prison, Corcoran, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Daniel pleaded guilty to Scott’s murder June 2017, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office, and received a 30-year sentence.
In June 2017, Dunning pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. He is currently at California Health Care Facility Stockton and had been serving a life with the possibility of parole sentence prior to the attack.
Scott had been serving a 25-year sentence for robbery and carjacking in Del Norte County, authorities have said.
Beyond Salinas Valley SP
Daniel’s attack was allegedly part of a statewide conspiracy dating back to 2011 to smuggle drugs and kill “those who run afoul of the gang,” according to the U.S. attorney.
Jason Corbett, 47, currently an inmate at California Training Facility Soledad, has been charged with organizing one murder and perpetrating another at High Desert State Prison.
On Oct. 15, 2016, Bobby Stockton killed Doug Maynard with a 6-inch inmate-made weapon on Corbett’s orders, according to the complaint. It says Maynard allegedly owed money at another prison and had a drug problem, and Stockton wanted to become a member of the Aryan Brotherhood.
Daniel had ordered an attack on Maynard earlier that year while Maynard was at Folsom State Prison, according to the complaint. Maynard survived that attack.
In 2018, Corbett and inmate and co-defendant Pat Brady, 48, attacked and killed Donald Pequeen with prisoner-made weapons at High Desert State Prison.
One of the weapons had “‘SS’ lightning bolts etched into its side,” a reference to Nazi Germany’s notorious paramilitary organization that ran the concentration and extermination camps.
Drugs, 5 murders
Six others have also either been arrested or are being sought in connection to the case.
One of them, attorney Kevin MacNamara, 39, of La Palma allegedly tried to smuggle methamphetamine, cellphones and tobacco into Folsom State Prison. Kristen Demar, 44, of Citrus Heights, allegedly assisted by posing as a paralegal during a meeting with inmate William Sylvester, 51, one of the scheme’s ringleaders.
“When the contraband was discovered, Sylvester, using a cellphone, advised Demar to blame their contraband smuggling on the Aryan Brotherhood in order to get out of trouble,” the U.S. attorney stated in the press release.
Demar and MacNamara are in custody, prosecutors say.
Sylvester and another inmate used the smuggled cellphones to oversee the conspiracy and coordinate the smuggling and murders with other Aryan Brotherhood members, according to the U.S. attorney.
Authorities are still searching for gang associates Kathleen Nolan, 64, of Calimesa and Matthew Hall, 50, of Manhattan Beach.
Follow Joe Szydlowski on Twitter @JoeSzyd_Salinas.
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