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Jury hears more refined side of Outlaw biker

For weeks, the jurors in the Outlaws Motorcycle Club trial have heard that Clarence "Smitty" Smith is a cold, manipulative killer. Someone who has murdered, and ordered others to murder, to protect his fellow Outlaws.

On Tuesday, though, jurors were told about Smith's kinder, more refined side.

They heard about Smith as a mature and level-headed bouncer at a West Palm topless bar. About his skill as a chess player. And about his fascination with computers and other technology he missed during his years on Louisiana's death row.

In short, his acting nothing like an executioner.

Jurors will have to reconcile all this testimony starting next week, if attorneys keep at their present pace. This week, they are listening, as the four Outlaws on trial present witnesses in their own defense. The defendants are accused of participating in an ongoing conspiracy to commit murder, traffic in drugs and intimidate other bikers.

Smith's former boss at an East Coast topless club testified Tuesday that throughout most of 1996 Smith had worked for him as a "level-headed bouncer" who strictly enforced the club rules against drugs and was "always there for the girls."

The boss, Charlie Covington of West Palm Beach, laid his black cowboy hat on the witness stand as he sat down. He was wearing a black shirt, black jeans and blackboots. He had a patch on his neck, over a surgical drain inserted after his third heart attack.

Covington said he considers Smith a friend. Covington said he knows a number of Outlaws and rides a Harley. He hasn't joined the club, although he was asked once.

A number of Outlaws patronized his club, Covington said. Some of their girlfriends or wives danced there. Sometimes the dancing work was temporary. For example, a 1995 biker funeral brought members to Florida from across the country. Girlfriends danced for three or four days to earn money for the trip back North.

Covington said Smith was a good bouncer because he was older: not as inclined to scrap as a younger employee would be, able to talk to anyone. He said Smith was reliable and would call if he was 10 minutes late.

Smith also was an "excellent chess player" with an "amazing" capacity to learn about computers and other things he was interested in.

"As far as I'm concerned he still works for me, as soon as he gets finished with this," Covington said.

Covington was followed on the witness stand by Diane Bolton, who now works as a licensed massage therapist in North Florida. But cocaine addiction had led her to be dancing at the Mermaid in 1996, where she met Smith. Smith helped bring her back off the edge, she said.

"He touched me very deeply," Bolton said, her eyes wide with feeling. ". . . One of the most special people I've ever met."

Another witness testifying on behalf of Smith's character was Adedeji Okubanjo, a former cellmate of Smith's at the Morgan Street Jail in Tampa. On cross-examination by a prosecutor, Okubanjo conceded he is facing multiple counts of bank fraud, allegedly performed under a half-dozen different names.

What isn't known yet is if Smith will testify. His attorney declined to say Tuesday. Smith's fellow defendant James "Pinball" Agnew has already rested his defense without taking the stand.

On Monday Agnew called a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who had investigated him. The agent, Joseph Kilmer, acknowledged there was no evidence to connect Agnew with some of the crimes mentioned in testimony.

Neither of the other two defendants, Christopher Maiale or Bobby Joe "Breeze" Mann, has so far taken the stand.