,oturday May 21, 1977 THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Judge denies Wimington 10
BURGAW N.C. (AP) - A
Superior Court judge rejected
yesterday the Wilmington 10 de-
fendants' appeal for a new trial
en charges of arson and con-
spiracyrstemming from racial
violence in Wilmington, N.C.,
six years ago.
Chief defense attorney James
Ferguson charged in final argu-
ments that the 1972 convictions
of the nine black men and one
white woman were obtained on
the admitted perjured testimony
of three witnesses, and through
FERGUSON said he would ap-
peal Judge George Fountain's
decision to the state Court of
Appeals in Raleigh.
The Rev. Ben Chavis, 29, and
the eight other men began serv-
ing prison terms ranging to 34
years after exhausting appeals
more than a year ago. The 10th
defendant, Ann Sheppard Tur-
ner, an antipoverty worker, re-
ceived a lesser sentence and is
free on parole.
The 10 were accused of fire-
bombing a white-owned grocery
and firing on emergency officers
at the height of racial turmoil
sparked by a school boycott in
the port city of Wilmington in
the winter of 1971.
FOUNTAIN, noting that the
U.S. Supreme Court had refused
to hear the case, said he did
not have the authority to rule
on guilt or innocence but only
to determine if there was "sub-
stantial denial of constitutional
rights of the defendants."
"I have concluded, and my
ruling will be, there was no such
denial," he said,
In-Washington, Rep. Don Ed-
wards, (D-Calif.), chairman of
the House civil rights subcom-
mittee, said he has urged the
U.S. Justice Department to in-
"THE JUSTICE Department
has indicated it shares our deep
concerns and intends to review
closely the latest Wilmington 10
decision," Edwards told a re-
Edwards, who attended the
hearing leading up to the deci-
sion, said the "outcome was in-
comprehensible in view of the
admitted perjury of the prosecu-
tion's major witnesses." He
called the decision "a tragic re-
tsrn to the days of Jim Crow
Fountain's ruling at the end
of the two-week, post-conviction
hearing was also criticized by
lawyers for the 10 and a group
of 75 mostly black supporters
who gathered daily at the Pen-
der County Courthouse.
"A GREAT INJUSTICE has
been done," Ferguson said at
a rally on the courthouse steps.
"This decision-represents a cer-
tain callousness to the issues
whe have raised .. This is prob-
ahly the longest post-conviction
hearing ever in the state of
North Carolina, and probably
the quickest ruling ever."
State Atty. Gen. Rufus Edmi-
sten, whose staff handled the
case for the state, commented,
"All the facts were placed out
on the table and the court has
ruled ... That should satisfy
The case has drawn interna-
tional attention since chief pros-
ecution witness Allen Hall re-
canited his trial testimony last
The firebombing came during
a period of racial gunfighting
in a black section of. Wilming-
ton after black high school stu-
dents ,began a boycott to protest
Ferguson, a black civil rights
lawyer from Charlotte, N.C., be-
ing paid by the United Church
of Christ, tried to show that
prosecutor James Stroudmade
made deals with three blacks
who -testified against the 10.
The Tower of Eder is a place
between Bethlehem and Heb-
ron where Jacob camped after
the death of Rachel. It is also
called the "tower of the flock."
(Continued from Page 8)
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