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Salyers sentenced to 20 years in Casey motorcycle gang killing

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GREENSBURG — David Salyers was back in Green Circuit Court today, dressed in faded blue jail duds this time instead of the crisp new dress shirts he wore during his trial in January.

His attorney Jude Hagan was there as well. Together they tried to convince Judge Judy Vance that Salyers deserved something less than the 20 years, six months in prison recommended by the jury that convicted Salyers of complicity to murder in the 2012 shooting death of Gleason Pyles at Tarter Gate Co. in Casey County.

It was to no avail. Vance said even though a pre-sentencing report indicated Salyers "lacked a serious criminal history," she weighed victim impact statements submitted by members of Pyles' family and decided to impose the sentence "as recommended by the jury in this case."

Hagan first asked Vance to grant Salyers a new trial, which was quickly denied. The attorney then brought up the jury's quick verdict — deliberating only an hour and 20 minutes to find Salyers guilty after a seven-day trial — before asking the judge to reduce his client's sentence.

"I think a lesser sentence would satisfy the need for punishment while still showing leniency toward Mr. Salyers, in consideration of his age and medical condition," Hagan said.

Salyers, 61, who has suffered a stroke and other ailments, spoke briefly before the judge.

"I'm not guilty of this charge here," he told Vance. "I did some things wrong, but…"

Special prosecutor Jeffrey Prather countered that Salyers had taken the stand in his own defense and "the jury found him guilty. The verdict is to be respected."

Salyers will get credit for the year and a half he has already served in jail since his arrest in October 2012. He will have to serve at least 17 years of his sentence before being eligible for a parole hearing.

Salyers was a 40-year member of the Iron Horsemen Motorcycle Club and recruited Pyles to join the gang after Salyers restarted a Frankfort chapter and named himself president. 

Saylers loaned Pyles money to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle — a requirement of membership — but the friendship became strained when Pyles was slow to repay the money. 

When Pyles quit the Iron Horsemen, he did not turn in his club vest and patches directly to Salyers, as required by the gang's by-laws, a move that further incensed Salyers.

On the night of Sept. 26, Salyers drove Bobby RIgdon, a newly indoctrinated Iron Horsement, to Tarter Gate Co. in Dunnville, where Pyles was working alone repairing equipment. Pyles was shot three times, including a fatal wound to the back of his head as he was trying to flee.

Police charged Rigdon with Pyles' murder and Salyers with complicity for orchestrating the killing. During his trial, Salyers testified that he brought Rigdon to the meet with Pyles but was surprised when Rigdon suddenly pulled a pistol and shot Pyles after being insulted.

Rigdon is scheduled to stand trial for murder in Casey Circuit Court in September, though there is some questions as to whether the case will be heard there.

Jury selection in Salyers' trial was underway in Casey County when Vance decided to move the case to Green County after it was discovered that Salyer's son and brother — both members of the Horsemen — may have tried to intimidate potential jurors.

Salyer's trial in Green County was conducted under heavy security but was completed without incident. There did not appear to be any extra security on hand today for his sentencing.

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