US Marshals had no trouble tracking Australian fugitive Wade Yates-Taui because he posted his location on Facebook.
Mongols bikie Wade Yates-Taui asked an associate to “antagonise” Max Waller and then watched as Waller was stabbed to death in a Gold Coast park with a steak knife designed by English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, according to court documents filed in the US.
Yates-Taui, 22, appeared briefly in a Los Angeles court on Wednesday after his arrest at a hotel at the weekend in the Californian mountain resort of Big Bear.
US District Court judge John McDermott was told Australian authorities have 60 days to file extradition papers for Yates-Taui.
As the burly Queensland cage fighter was being led out of court and back to his cell in LA’s Metropolitan Detention Center, his girlfriend and former Miss V8 Supercar national finalist, Raquel Petit, sitting at the rear of the public gallery, shouted: “I love you”.
Yates-Taui replied: “I love you too. Don’t talk to anyone”.
A criminal complaint filed by US prosecutors has given the most thorough public account of the killing of Waller and the case Queensland police have built against Yates-Taui and alleged co-conspirators.
Text messages and phone records will likely play a substantial role in the case.
Yates-Taui boarded a flight to Indonesia on December 10, a day before he was due to testify before the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission probe into his alleged involvement in the fatal stabbing of Waller, according to the complaint.
While fugitives often keep a low profile, Yates-Taui and Petit documented their travels on their Facebook pages, making it easy for US Marshals to track them in California.
When the couple visited Venice Beach, authorities were aware.
When they were in the mountains of picturesque Big Bear Lake, a US Marshal fugitive task force officer with the Los Angeles Police Department knew about it.
The court documents allege when Waller’s body, suffering stab wounds from a 15 to 21 millimetre wide straight blade knife, was found on June 23 outside the Gold Coast apartment complex, Carmel by the Sea, police searched a park across the road and found Waller’s mobile phone.
The phone “revealed SMS conversations between Waller, and Cohen Andrew Smith as well as between Waller and Benjamin Thomas Mortimer”, US prosecutor, Sean D. Peterson, wrote in the complaint filed in the District Court.
“Mortimer, Smith and Yates-Taui are known associates of a criminal motorcycle gang and Waller was associated with a rival criminal motorcycle gang,” Mortimer wrote.
Analysis of the phone records and SMS messages allegedly found Smith and Mortimer had been trying to arrange a meeting with Waller.
On June 24, Mortimer was scheduled to appear in a Queensland court for an assault and robbery, according to court documents.
Yates-Taui and Mortimer were allegedly upset with Waller and called Waller “a dog”.
“QPS (Queensland Police Service) believe the above demonstrates a possible motive as Waller was fatally stabbed 28 hours prior to Mortimer’s pending court appearance,” according to the complaint.
Analysis of telephone records, phone tower positioning and SMS messages indicated Yates-Taui was with Mortimer when Mortimer attempted to contact Waller on June 22.
“When Waller failed to respond to Mortimer’s SMS message, Yates-Taui contacted Smith via SMS and asked that Smith “antagonise (the) old mate”.
In the early hours of June 23, after more text messages were exchanged, Waller allegedly arranged to meet in the park opposite the Carmel by the Sea apartment building.
Video footage from a resort complex nearby showed a dark grey Holden Commodore arrive and park near Carmel by the Sea.
“It does show the vehicle park before the driver, believed to be Yates-Taui, exits the vehicle,” the court papers said.
Video footage showed Waller collapsing outside the foyer of Carmel by the Sea.
Police allege a search of the Wyndham Hotel where Yates-Taui and Mortimer left before the killing found a set of Jamie Oliver brand steak knives matching the knife used in the assault.
The knife was sold in a set of six, but allegedly only five were located.