A jury in Stanislaus County, California, convicted David William Hess, 35, of carjacking on behalf of the Nazi Low Riders (NLR), a violent racist prison gang.
The jury returned the guilty verdict on April 27, 2009, after a two-week trial and two days of deliberation.
On December 22, 2005, Hess, a parolee at the time, pretended to wield a firearm and confronted victim Allen Freitas in a parking lot in Modesto. Acting on the orders of Dion Milam, a high ranking member of the NLR gang, Hess targeted Freitas after Freitas stopped sending money to NLR in return for drugs, phone calls, and protection that NLR allegedly provided him while he was imprisoned earlier that year. According to Freitas, the gang became interested in him after discovering that he was in possession of $25,000.
Freitas testified that, in December 2005, Hess attempted to intimidate him by removing his shirt to reveal numerous neo-Nazi tattoos including swastikas, SS lightning bolts, and the words "pure hate." Later that month, prison officials intercepted a telephone call in which Milam instructed Hess to rob Freitas. The following day, police stopped Hess, who was driving Freitas' car.
Freitas agreed to testify in exchange for placement in a witness relocation program, fearful of retaliatory action from the Nazi Low Riders.
In 2008, Leanna Werner, David Hess's girlfriend, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and was sentenced to two years in state prison. Werner facilitated calls between Freitas and his brother during Freitas's imprisonment, and following his release, Werner contacted and visited Freitas to collect money for the gang.
At the time of the incident Milam was in prison, awaiting trial for murder. He was subsequently convicted and in 2007 sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Because of his conviction and sentence, charges of conspiracy to commit murder, carjacking, and robbery against Milam were dropped. Milam, whose prior convictions include assault and burglary, has the words "Aryan Honor" tattooed over his eyebrows, and a Nazi eagle tattoo on his neck.
Hess's sentencing is scheduled for May 29, 2009. He faces a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life plus an additional three year enhancement due to his prior convictions.