Accused Hamilton brothers 'grew up with' slain ex-biker
Two brothers and the ex-Hells Angels member they are accused of murdering “all grew up together,” a police detective said.
John, 50, and Mato 'Michael', 47, Josipovic were arrested Monday around 12:30 p.m. Police said in a release that search warrants were executed at the brothers' adjacent homes in Grimsby. John was arrested at home and Michael was arrested at his workplace in Milton.
The brothers were formally charged with first-degree murder at Hamilton court Tuesday. They appeared separately – Mato in the morning with his lawyer, Steve Kim, and John in the afternoon with his lawyer Micheal O'Brien.
James 'Louis' Malone was shot in the head in the early hours of Nov. 9 in the east end, near Robins Avenue and Cannon Street East. Malone was found on the sidewalk on Kenilworth Avenue North, near Britannia Avenue.
Lead Hamilton Police detective Peter Thom told reporters the Josipovic brothers and Malone “grew up in the east end.”
“We got on to them fairly soon and we’ve just been working the case,” Thom said in a scrum outside the Hamilton courthouse.
Mato ‘Michael’ Josipovic appeared in a Hamilton courtroom Tuesday morning. He wore a navy ‘Harley Davidson’ shirt underneath a navy hooded sweatshirt and dark pants. Mato is tall with an average build. He has short, dark hair and has a moustache and a goatee beard. He was shackled at the ankles.
Mato looked calm when his first-degree murder charged was read to him. He spoke only when spoken to – first to acknowledge he understands the charge and again to agree to his next court appearance.
His older brother John appeared later in the day, wearing what appeared to be a black and grey motorcycle jacket and blue jeans. He is also tall, with a slightly heavier build than his younger brother. John has medium brown hair with a scruffy moustache. He was also shackled at the ankles.
John didn't say a word in front of court, but rather nodded to acknowledge the justice of the peace. Lawyer O'Brien spoke on his behalf.
There is a long list of people both Mato and John not permitted contact with, however a publication ban prohibits media from publishing those details.
Mato will appear again in Hamilton court Nov. 20 via video link.
Thom said Mato was not known to police prior to his arrest. John was known to police “several years ago,” he said.
Malone was formerly a member of the local Hell's Angels motorcycle gang. He was known to police.
Thom said “an incident” between three men happened before the shooting in the Delta neighbourhood- more than a dozen blocks west of where the killing took place. That is where police are now focusing their investigation.
Thom would not comment on whether the Josipovics have or had a connection with Hells Angels or any other organized motorcycle gang.
Help from citizens
In announcing the arrests, Police credit the willingness of people from the area to help with the investigation and of local businesses for provide video footage.
"A number of civic minded citizens have come forward and provided eye-witness accounts about the incident. Local businesses and organizations have also provided hours of surveillance footage which has proved invaluable in the solving of this very public and brazen murder," police said in a press release.
Despite that, investigators say they still want to speak to people who were in the Delta area of Kensington Ave North and Main St. East around the time of the shooting.
“We know there is more information out there,” Thom said.
They are looking for people who were at Main Billiards, located at 1101 Main Street East, between midnight and 1 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9. Police indicate the altercation between three males was at that location.
Police have said previously that the shooting was “targeted.” Malone’s killers chased him through the neighbourhood, Thom previously told CBC Hamilton, and then sped away in a pickup truck while the 49-year-old lay bleeding on the sidewalk.
Police have been looking for two men who fled the crime scene in a grey Dodge Ram.
In a release last week, investigators outlined how the crime played out through neighbourhood streets.
The first attack came at Robins Ave and Cannon Street. This is where Malone was walking his dogs when first approached by a gunman carrying a shotgun.
The gunman fired at Malone, with the blast hitting the front door of a Robins Avenue home.
Malone ran east on Cannon St, as the gunman chased him and he was followed by a second man driving a grey, Dodge Ram pick-up truck.
The second attack came at the northwest corner of Britannia Ave and Kenilworth, a block east and a block north, where “witnesses reported further shots being fired at Mr. Malone.”
The third and fatal scene was outside of 225 Kenilworth Ave North, another block north. Here, he was shot at close range and this is where his body was found. Two store windows in the area were shot out.
The gunmen took off southbound in the truck to Britannia and drove westbound.