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Murder suspects are high-level gang members, cop says

Published in 1%er News and All News

Three men charged with murder in connection with a fatal shooting in Grand Junction five months ago were upper-level members in a national outlaw motorcycle club’s local branch, according to a detective who testified about the gang’s structure in court.

Richard Byrd, 49, Rufus Billups, 42, and Gregory Clark, 39 — each of whom is charged in the March 15 slaying of 38-year-old Dion Nixon at his Grand Junction home — are all members of one-percenter motorcycle club the Sin City Deciples, according to Grand Junction Police Detective Julie Stogsdill, who headed the investigation.

Police believe Nixon was shot to death on the front porch of his trailer at James Trailer Park, 489 28 1/4 Road, after a confrontation with several local members of the Sin City Deciples. Witnesses have told police that Nixon’s girlfriend was the ex-wife of the chapter’s past president.

Speaking last week at an evidence summary hearing for Byrd’s case, Stogsdill said that Byrd, who goes by the nicknames “OG” or “Prez,” is the current president of Grand Junction’s Deciples chapter. Billups, who uses the moniker “Fifty,” is believed to be the chapter’s vice president and Clark, also known as “Shadow,” serves as the current sergeant-at-arms, or enforcer.

The Sin City Deciples Motorcycle Club — which intentionally misspells its name — is considered a “one percenter” organization by law enforcement, a phrase that refers to their outlaw status in society. The FBI’s 2015 National Gang Report describes the group as a primarily black gang with male-only membership.

Stogsdill said detectives learned that after Nixon’s girlfriend’s divorce from now-former chapter president Doug Daugherty, she lost her status as club “property,” a term that refers exclusively to female affiliates of some gangs and which implies a somewhat respected standing in the organization. The woman later regained property status after being “sponsored” by members of the Denver and Colorado state chapter, according to Stogsdill.

Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein asked The Daily Sentinel not to publish Nixon’s girlfriend’s name, citing concerns that she could face retaliation from members of the motorcycle club, which has a presence across Colorado.

Adding to the romantic entanglements, Stogsdill testified that Nixon in the past had also dated Byrd’s own ex-girlfriend, a woman who is currently married to yet another motorcycle club member.

Nixon’s girlfriend told police that the night of the shooting, Billups spoke to Nixon by phone over a dispute that arose over Nixon’s treatment of his girlfriend, and over his lack of interest in becoming affiliated with the Sin City Deciples.

“Rufus wanted to explain to Dion what Sin City was all about and explain … to him about her being property, that she’s family or connected to the group,” Stogsdill said, describing Nixon’s girlfriend’s story. “She had related that (Billups and other gang members) were talking to him about the way he should treat their property.”

Witnesses told police that Byrd, Billups and Clark, along with other club members and several women, parked near the trailer park and confronted Nixon, taunting him as he walked back from North Avenue.

Nixon was standing in or near his front door when gunfire erupted, while his girlfriend and several children were in the home behind him. One child said that Nixon had walked back inside the trailer when the first shot was fired, and that Nixon grabbed a gun and went back outside. When he was shot, he fell back into the trailer, Stogsdill said.

The accused shooters fled the trailer park. Neither Nixon’s girlfriend nor any of the children were injured.

None of the three defendants has entered a plea. Byrd, who is represented by Public Defender Steve Colvin, will continue his preliminary hearing Aug. 31 before Mesa County District Judge Valerie Robison.

Billups’ preliminary hearing, which included similar testimony as Wednesday’s hearing, was held July 17. In that case, Robison found probable cause for Billups’ charges, but didn’t find “proof evident,” meaning that she couldn’t hold him in custody without bond, according to Rubinstein. After the hearing, Robison set Billups’ bond at $750,000.

Clark is due to appear for his preliminary hearing at 2 p.m. Aug. 28 before District Judge Richard Gurley, court records said.

Source: gjsentinel.com
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