Testimony at Vagos trial yields new details
Two of Patrick Ouellette’s former friends finished testifying against him Friday, and both painted pictures with details differing from those of the two alleged victims of a kidnapping and beating at his hands.
However, all witness testimony in the first four days of the planned two-week trial still attest to a Carson City man being snatched from the streets and severely beaten.
Ouellette, 30, of Reno, is charged with six felonies – first- and second-degree kidnapping with a deadly weapon, battery and assault with a deadly weapon, extortion, all with gang enhancements, and battery by strangulation – that could send him to prison for life if he is found guilty.
Ouellette, the president of the Carson City chapter of the Vagos outlaw motorcycle club, is accused of kidnapping Cody McChesney and Heather Green in early September concerning an alleged dispute over money for drugs. He allegedly beat McChesney with a pistol, gashing his head and causing blood to spurt out, McChesney testified, and held the two against their will.
But the dispute came under a veil Friday afternoon when Tara Schulz Graham, who said she was romantically involved with Ouellette at the time, testified that it was McChesney who was responsible for between $250 and $300 worth of drugs owed to her, as opposed to her owing him money, per the testimony of others. Assistant District Attorney Gerald Gardner also had noted the discrepancy in his opening statement to the jury.
Schulz Graham testified that she was “pretty drugged out” on methamphetamine at the time and became angry when a man she met through McChesney never returned money to her after she gave him drugs to sell. She testified that she told Ouellette, who wanted to hold McChesney accountable. She said McChesney told her to “sleep with one eye open because I’m going to do ungodly things to you,” and Ouellette started making calls to find him. McChesney denied making the threat.
She said the two had been in a relationship and she was a “Vagos Old Lady,” though she didn’t know Ouellette was also in a relationship with his wife and Chelsea Lavender, an alleged accomplice in the incident. Schulz Graham testified that she now thinks he was merely trying to get to her drug source.
After Ouellette allegedly brought McChesney to another Vagos member’s garage, she said, he called her over. Walking up the driveway, she testified, she could hear moans “like somebody was too exhausted to scream.”
“(Ouellette) told me he was doing all this (beating McChesney) for me because he loves me and that he does everything for me,” she said in her tear-filled testimony. “He told me they were beating him within inches of his life and bringing him back so they could beat him some more.”
She testified that after seeing another woman with Ouellette and hearing him call her “babe,” she ran off, but not before stopping at a garage window and seeing Green pointing a handgun at a beaten and bloody McChesney, with a large gash on his head.
Harlan Hendry, a former Vagos member who testified to helping Ouellette with the snatching and beating of McChesney, testified that he handed Green a gun: “I hoped she would get the point and use it to get away, point it at one of us or something,” he said – but she just held it barrel down until Ouellette made him take it back.
Hendry also testified to lighting a blowtorch and waving it in front of McChesney, but only to scare him. McChesney testified that his legs were burned, and the District Attorney’s Office introduced photos that they argue show the scars.
He said the beating of McChesney started when he and Green were taken into a car by him, with a gun in his hand though not pointing at anyone, with Ouellette driving and McChesney in the front passenger seat. McChesney testified he was in the back seat when the beatings by Ouellette and Hendry started.
He also testified he thought Ouellette was planning to kill McChesney, but that he was able to talk him out of it.
Hendry, who was kicked out of the motorcycle club shortly after the alleged incident, received full immunity for his testimony, though he emphasized that he would have testified regardless.
“I was ashamed of what I’d done,” he testified. “It was wrong. And, frankly, I want to go to a better place when I’m gone.”
He offered his testimony to police when they called him in November, he said.
Schulz Graham was offered a possible lesser sentence in exchange for her testimony, a point defense attorney Jesse Kalter emphasized. She was charged with several drug-related offenses in March and pleaded guilty to only felony trafficking. Part of the deal includes the possibility of probation, which is not part of Nevada law on penalties for that charge.
She testified that after the McChesney beating, Ouellette took McChesney to her apartment. She said McChesney was looking pale, clammy and sick and wearing clothes showing support for the Vagos. When she asked them to leave, they refused, she testified. When she tried to leave, she said, Ouellette grabbed her from behind and choked her until she was unconscious.
She testified that she tried to tell police about the incident when she was arrested weeks after for possession of drug paraphernalia but was told they couldn’t do anything without proof.