A California member of the Hells Angels pleaded not guilty Thursday to second-degree murder for his role in the death of his chapter president in a September shootout in a Nevada casino.
Cesar Villagrana of Gilroy also pleaded not guilty to shooting and wounding two members of the rival Vagos motorcycle gang in the melee.
Villagrana is not suspected of shooting his longtime friend and San Jose chapter leader Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew. However. authorities said he was charged with murder because he was a principal participant in the brawl the led to the death in Sparks on Sept. 23.
Washoe District Judge Connie Steinheimer set a tentative Jan. 17 trial date for Villagrana, the same day Ernesto Gonzalez of San Francisco — a Vagos member indicted for murder — is due to stand trial.
Authorities suspect Gonzalez fired the shots that killed Pettigrew
The judge, however, indicated the trial might not begin until the end of 2012.
Prosecutor Karl Hall expects suspect Gary Stuart Rudnick, who was arrested in Los Angeles in connection with Pettigrew's killing, to be returned to Reno and arraigned before Dec. 7.
Rudnick, vice president of the Vagos Los Angeles chapter, was indicted on a second-degree murder charge.