Rival Could Get Death Penalty in Hells Angels Killing

Federal murder charges have been filed against an alleged biker gang member accused of shooting to death the leader of the San Francisco chapter of the rival Hells Angels gang last year, making for a potential death penalty case.

Christopher Bryan Ablett, 36, a reputed member of the Mongols motorcycle gang, is accused of killing 46-year-old Mark "Papa" Guardado  outside a bar in San Francisco's Mission District on Sept. 2, 2008.

Ablett, of Modesto, was declared a fugitive shortly thereafter, and turned himself in to police in Oklahoma in October. He was later extradited back to San Francisco to stand trial on murder charges filed by the San Francisco District Attorney's Office.

Ablett was scheduled to begin a preliminary hearing in the state case this week, but a federal indictment handed down July 23 in San Francisco charged him with murder in the aid of racketeering and use of a firearm in a murder. Both charges are eligible for the death penalty.

He is also charged with use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, which carries a maximum punishment of life in prison.

Ablett pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in federal court Wednesday and remains in federal custody.

A detention hearing scheduled for Monday was postponed until Aug. 12, when Ablett will also be appointed a new attorney.

The Mongols gang operates across the United States and is believed to have 500 to 600 members in chapters throughout California, as well as in Oklahoma and several other states, Mexico and Canada, according to the U.S.  Attorney's Office.

The indictment calls the gang "a criminal organization" engaging in murder, drug trafficking, robbery, extortion, money laundering and witness intimidation.

State murder charges remain against Ablett, pending resolution of his federal case, according to the district attorney's office.

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