On November 3, 2008, a federal judge in Monroe, Louisiana, sentenced Donald Brendle, 33, to 10 years in federal prison, the maximum sentence allowed for possession of a weapon by a felon. In accordance with his plea arrangement, the sentence will run concurrently with any sentence he receives in state court after pleading guilty to related charges there.
As part of his plea deal, Brendle testified in the trial of Tanya "Little Feather" Smith, who was convicted on October 1, 2008, of three federal firearm charges for her role in the August 2007 shootout with police.
Smith was with Dennis Clem, an Aryan Circle member, when he shot and killed two Bastrop Police Officers. Clem was killed in the ensuing shoot-out with police officers.
On March 18, Donald "Alex" Brendle of Bastrop, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to a federal charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in U.S. District Court in Monroe.
Brendle was one of three individuals arrested for helping Aryan Circle member Tanya Smith escape from the area on August 10, 2007, following a deadly shootout with police. Brendle's guilty plea was part of a plea agreement in which Brendle will provide testimony against Smith.
Two Bastrop Police Department detectives were killed at a local motel during a shootout with Dennis Leighton Clem, a member of the violent racist prison gang Aryan Circle. Clem also died in the August 10 motel shootout. The detectives went to the hotel after receiving a tip that Brendle, who they were seeking in connection to a local stolen property case, had rented a room at the motel. They did not expect to encounter Smith and Clem, who were on the run from a double murder in Texas. Clem opened fire on the detectives with two pistols, shooting and killing them on the scene. A standoff ensued until Clem was shot and killed.
Tonya Smith was allegedly present at the scene but fled during the shootout. She was captured two days later and charged with two counts of first-degree murder for killing a police officer. Three people—Brendle, Michael L. Coleman, and Brendle's girlfriend Chrystal Harrell—were arrested for allegedly helping Smith escape. Each was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of first-degree murder, two counts of accessory after the fact of attempted first-degree murder, and one count of obstruction of justice. Authorities believe Brendle was also a member of the Aryan Circle, which is primarily Texas-based, but has members in nearby states as well.
Under the terms of the deal, the U.S. Attorney's Office recommended that Brendle receive the maximum penalty of 10 years, which will run concurrently with any time he receives in state court when he pleads guilty to related charges there. Brendle's sentencing in federal court is scheduled for August.
In March 2008, Chrystal Harrell pleaded guilty in state district court in Bastrop to one count of accessory after the fact for her role in Smith's escape. She is currently awaiting sentencing. She faces up to five years in prison.