After killing two of his "brothers" assassination style, Kingsmen Andre Jenkins jumped on his Harley and as he fled the scene, yelled out one last four-letter message - "LKDK," according to prosecutors.
"Live a Kingsmen. Die a Kingsmen," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi said Tuesday.
The story of how two Kingsmen Motorcycle Club members died at the hands of one of their own and who, besides Jenkins, played a role in the killings began unfolding on Day One of an expected four-month trial before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford.
More than two years in the making, the trial centers around the 2014 murders of Kingsmen Paul Maue and Daniel "DJ" Szymanski and the allegation that David Pirk, the club's national president at the time, gave the orders to kill them.
"That was the message, loud and clear, that defendant Jenkins was sending on behalf of defendant Pirk," Tripi said of Jenkins' departure from the murder scene outside the Kingsmen clubhouse in North Tonawanda.
In his opening statement to the jury, Tripi said Jenkins would later, in a jailhouse conversation, admit he committed the murders and that he did them at Pirk's direction. Jenkins is already serving a life without parole sentence for the killings.
"Everyone knows I did it," he told a fellow inmate, according to Tripi. "I did it for the national boss."
In outlining the government's case, Tripi gave a history lesson of sorts on the Kingsmen, from their founding in Lockport in 1958 to their more recent expansion into Pennsylvania, Florida and Tennessee.
But it was under Pirk, who became national president in 2013, that the Kingsmen sought to become a "one percent " club, biker slang for clubs that engage in criminal activity, he told the jury.
Tripi said the club's goal was to expand its national reputation and footprint by competing with the Pagans, Outlaws and other one-percent clubs.
"The Kingsmen did it all when it came to crime, from the nonviolent to the extremely violent, " he said.
Pirk was also concerned about Kingsmen who were "jumping patch," or leaving for rival clubs, according to Tripi, and saw the killings as a necessary message to members opposed to him and the transition to a criminal enterprise.
In the coming weeks, Tripi said, the government will provide evidence that Pirk initially wanted to murder Filip Caruso, another Kingsmen, but when that effort failed, turned to Maue and Szymanski.
Pirk and the others on trial deny the allegations.
"Any wrongdoing committed by individual KMC members was the work of those individual members and not the work of the KMC," their lawyers said in court papers this month. They were scheduled to make their opening statements Wednesday.
Tripi, in his opening, said the government will rely on several Kingsmen who have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Pirk, Jenkins and Timothy Enix, the former Tennessee and Florida chapter president also on trial.
"We couldn't have better witnesses," he told the jury. "They will come in here and one by one tell you what the Kingsmen Motorcycle Club is all about."
Founded more than six decades ago, the Kingsmen have been a constant presence in the community, their gold knight's helmet with the red plume on top a frequent sight on local streets and highways.
Until the 2016 indictment charging 16 club members with drug dealing, gun sales, acts of violence and operating a criminal conspiracy, no other biker club enjoyed deeper roots in the community.
Tripi said the trial will expose the other side of the Kingsmen, the side where loyalty was valued far more than human life. He told the story of Jenkins, who is African-American, discussing his race and the club's historical opposition to including blacks with Pirk and another club member.
"I'm a Kingsmen before I'm black," he told them, according to Tripi.
The trial follows a jury selection that lasted several weeks and had three separate phases, including an initial "hardship" evaluation of prospective jurors unable to serve up to four months.
Wolford also oversaw an individual "voir dire" and group "voir dire" – two separate evaluations of prospective jurors' competence and suitability to serve on a jury – and earlier this month disclosed that 12 jurors and six alternatives had been selected.
The trial is expected to feature the testimony of several Kingsmen, some of them members who were charged in the indictment and have since pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Pirk, Jenkins and Timothy Enix, a former regional president.
The criminal case against the Kingsmen is beginning to unfold as a yearlong civil case over the Kingsmen name and organization is winding down.
That legal fight resulted in a court-approved agreement requiring the club's two factions to form new clubs under new names and barring them from using the Kingsmen name in New York State.
The agreement, drafted by State Supreme Court Justice Henry J. Nowak, also gave each side in the dispute ownership of one of the Kingsmen's four local clubhouses — one in Lockport, the other in Niagara Falls — and ordered the other two put up for auction next month.
Use of the Kingsmen patch — the well-known knight's helmet — is not affected by the agreement.