“People’s characterization of him is he is a violent gang member,” says Michael Langford. “I spent four years with him in close quarters without any restraint what so ever. Not one time did I ever feel my safety was compromised."
But that changed Monday morning at the Salt Lake City federal courthouse.
Siale Angilau was shot and killed after he allegedly attacked a witness testifying against him.
Angilau was facing federal racketeering charges associated with his ties to a Tongan cript gang.
His attorney says Angilau wasn't himself and his jail conditions had upset him.
“He didn't have access to his legal paper work,” says Langford. “He was transported to Weber County (jail). He was not able to take a shower. Needless to say his mood was slightly different.”
But there may have been bad blood between Angilau and the man he attacked, Viola Tenifa.
Last year a young man was murdered at a Salt Lake City convenience store.
Angilau's young brother Vilisonia Angilau was charged for the murder. Some believe Tenifa who was facing obstruction charges on the case, fingered the brother.
Langford filed a motion to dismiss Tenifa as a witness but was overruled.
Monday, Tenifa testified about the inner workings of the Tongan cript gang.
Langford says that didn’t bother him but what concerned him was Tenifa's possible bias against Angilau and his brother.
“I needed sufficient time to make that determination,” he says. “Certainly Mr. Tenifa was snitching on my client."
Langford won't talk about the attack saying it's too hurtful.
“I'm obviously still upset and I'm sad,” he says. “It was a tragic event for everyone involved. But my thoughts right now are with Siale's family and his loved one's.”
Langford says Angilau felt betrayed when federal prosecutors charged him with racketeering. He says in 2007 Angilau pleaded guilty to state charges and part of the deal no future charges would be filed. But in 2010 the U.S. attorney filed racketeering charges.
“That’s what upset Angilau,” Langford says.