Callahan given nine-year term in slaying
By Raul Hernandez, rhernandez@VenturaCountyStar.com
March 30, 2006 [Ventura County (CA) Star]
A judge Wednesday sentenced Bridget Callahan to nine years in prison and fined her more than $40,000 for her role in the skinhead gang murder of 17-year-old Nichole Hendrix of Oxnard in 1998.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Edward Brodie gave Callahan six years in prison for voluntary manslaughter, plus three years for being an active member of a gang while committing the crime.
The 34-year-old Callahan will get credit for nearly 5 years of time served and good behavior, Brodie said. Callahan, however, agreed to waive a year of custody credits.
Callahan was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury in November 2002, but was granted a new trial. In February, she pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.
In sentencing Callahan, Brodie said she was "deeply, deeply involved" in the gang called the Skinhead Dogs for many years. However, he said, Callahan was instrumental in helping police and prosecutors shore up their murder cases against the leaders of the gang — and risked her life to do so.
"You'll get out, and you'll have a life, and I hope you make the best of it," Brodie said to Callahan.
The judge had some scathing criticism of Ventura County Sheriff's Department deputies and prosecutors, who used Callahan to help them "squeeze" information from leaders of the racist, skinhead gang, David Ziesmer and Michael Bridgeford.
"It squeezed them hard, and they both broke like a couple of ripe watermelons," he said. "The reason they broke was Miss Callahan."
Ziesmer stabbed Hendrix while Bridgeford held Hendrix down in a motel bathtub. Callahan waited in the bedroom while the killing was taking place; prosecutors said she did nothing to help Hendrix.
Both Ziesmer and Bridgeford were convicted of first-degree murder. Ziesmer was sentenced to life in prison without parole; Bridgeford was sentenced to 58 years in prison. The judge said former prosecutor Ron Bamieh had offered Callahan 11 years in exchange for "working the case."
Callahan didn't have an attorney during that time, the judge said. After Bamieh and district attorney investigator Mark Volpei were abruptly pulled from the case, the 11-year deal was taken off the table, the judge pointed out. Later, prosecutors indicted Callahan for murder.
"They are held to a higher standard. They should have done something," Brodie said.
The judge said Callahan's behavior in joining and become a very active member of the gang was bizarre.
"I have no idea where your brain was," Brodie told Callahan.
Before the sentencing, Deputy Attorney General Michael Farrell and Special Assistant Attorney General David Druliner gave details of Callahan's trail of drugs, group sex, violence, lies and deceit. Farrell said Callahan has two tattoos on her body — an ashtray and a coaster.
"If a Skinhead Dog wanted to use her for sex, it was a place where they could put their beer and cigarette at," Farrell told the judge. "She was fully immersed in the Skinhead Dog lifestyle."
Based in Ventura, this group was recruited as a subordinate gang by larger, more powerful white supremacist prison gangs active in southern California such as the Nazi Low Riders (NLR) and the PENI Skins. The Skinhead Dogs allegedly became active in the illegal drug trade, particularly methamphetamine.
April 2005: Skinhead Dogs leader David Ziesmer was convicted of first degree murder while committing a kidnapping and robbery during a 1998 incident. Skinhead Dogs members led by Ziesmer killed a teenage associate of the group, Nicole Hendrix, out of fear that she might tell police of their activities involving drug dealing and theft. Ziesmer allegedly drugged Hendrix, locked her in a motel bathroom, then stabbed and stomped her to death in the bathtub while another member, Michael Bridgeford, held her down. The body was then hidden. Less than a week later, Ziesmer was arrested for a hate crime assault after attacking a black man in Ventura. While in jail, Ziesmer ordered Skinhead Dog members to dispose of Hendrix’s body. Authorities say the skinheads took a trash can containing the body, placed a number of illegal weapons inside it, and pushed it over a cliff. Bridgeford was sentenced to 58 years in prison for his role in killing Hendrix.