Sigmund and Barbara Szymanski sat in federal court and watched solemnly Wednesday as the national president of the Kingsmen motorcycle club pleaded not guilty to ordering the executions of the Szymanskis’ son and another Buffalo-area biker.
As David J. Pirk, 65, made his first Buffalo court appearance in connection with the 2014 murders, Barbara Szymanski held a purse. Inside the purse was a small velvet bag, with a rosary wrapped around it. Inside the velvet bag were some of the cremains of her murdered son, Daniel “DJ” Szymanski.
“He goes with me everywhere … DJ,” an emotional Barbara Szymanski told a reporter before the court proceeding. “We’re still fighting for our son.”
Her husband said he hopes that a federal prosecution aimed at Pirk and 15 other Kingsmen members will provide some answers about the slaying that has rocked their lives.
The Kingsmen members were indicted five weeks ago in a gang violence case involving charges of murder, intimidation, drug dealing, gun trafficking and other crimes.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal agents allege that Pirk ordered a fellow Kingsmen member, Andre L. “Little Bear” Jenkins, to drive from Florida to Western New York and murder Daniel Szymanski, 31, who lived with his parents in Getzville, and his friend Paul Maue, 38, of Buffalo, a father of six, in September 2014. The two men were shot to death in Maue’s car outside the Kingsmen clubhouse on Oliver Street in North Tonawanda.
Pirk, who has done construction work and has run a tree service in Florida, is a man of medium build, about 5-feet-8, with long, flowing white hair, a white beard and arms festooned with tattoos. He wore an orange jail jumpsuit during the court appearance, and his hands were shackled to a chain around his waist. A resident of Eustis, Fla., who grew up in Niagara County, Pirk has been assigned two attorneys because his case is a potential death-penalty prosecution. Taxpayers will cover the fees and expenses for both attorneys because Pirk has told authorities he cannot afford to hire a lawyer.
A detention hearing will be held May 23 to determine whether federal marshals can continue to keep Pirk in jail while he awaits trial, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer said. Pirk has been held without bail since his arrest in Florida last month.
Three other bikers, including Jenkins, who already has been convicted in state court of murdering the two bikers, also appeared before Roemer on Wednesday.
After a series of disputes involving several Western New York Kingsmen chapters, Pirk is accused of directing Jenkins to kill Daniel Szymanski and Maue. Prosecutors and police say that both victims were shot in the head as they sat in the front seats of Maue’s car. Police say Jenkins pulled out a gun and shot the two men after getting into the back seat of the vehicle.
Maue and Daniel Szymanski were both local members of the Kingsmen.
Szymanski’s parents said that it was emotionally painful for them to attend Jenkins’ murder trial last year, but they said they want to find out the truth about what happened to their son. Barbara Szymanski said that it was painful for her and her husband to sit in court Wednesday near the man who has been convicted of killing their son and from the biker club president who is accused of ordering the murder.
“He took my son away from me,” Barbara Szymanski said, referring to Jenkins. “Of course, it’s hard for me.”
Prosecutors are waiting for a decision from Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in Washington on whether the government will seek the death penalty against Pirk and Jenkins, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi told Roemer.
Pirk is represented by attorneys William T. Easton and Cheryl Meyers Buth, both of whom have extensive experience in potential death-penalty cases.
Another Florida leader of the Kingsmen, Timothy “Blaze” Enix, 56, also pleaded not guilty. He told Roemer that he has worked as an accountant and a real estate agent and for an automobile company. Enix has hired defense attorney Terrence M. Connors, who made an unusual statement in the courtroom.
Noting that defendants sometimes cause trouble for themselves by talking with other inmates about their alleged crimes, Connors said: “I’m telling him right now, on the record, not to talk with any other inmates about this case.”
Also pleading not guilty Wednesday was Jack F. Wood II, 45, a Kingsmen member from Tennessee. He appeared with his court-appointed attorney, John J. Molloy.
Roemer said he also will have detention hearings for Enix and Wood.
The 16 bikers, all of whom deny wrongdoing, were indicted on federal charges last month after a lengthy investigation by the FBI-led Safe Streets Task Force.
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