White supremacist sentenced in Santa Rosa stabbing

The Press Democrat, California/April 11, 2013

By Paul Payne

A member of a white supremacist gang who took part in a knife attack on two black men outside a Santa Rosa McDonald's was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison.

Aaron Welch, 27 of Clearlake, received the punishment for the Aug. 26 attack on a Sonoma County correctional officer and his brother. The brother was injured.

Welch, who police said is vice president of the Lake County chapter of the Barbarian Brotherhood, faced the possibility of life in prison. He was charged with a hate crime enhancement.

But he reached a plea bargain with prosecutors that avoided trial. His sentenced was doubled because of a prior prison conviction.

The heavily tattooed man declined to speak in court Thursday. His lawyer said he regrets what happened and has taken responsibility.

His co-defendants in the case, Salvatore Bordessa, 33 of Windsor and Vanessa Michaels, 25 of Novato, remain in custody and are facing trial on similar charges.

Bordessa, who police said is the treasurer of the Sonoma County chapter of the gang, is accused of brandishing a knife and yelling racial slurs during the confrontation. Michaels, Welch's former girlfriend, is charged with helping the defendants by grabbing a phone away from a witness who was trying to call the police.

Both could get life sentences if convicted. Bordessa has turned down a prosecution offer to serve 10 years. A trial date has not been set.

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