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August 10, 1976 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1976-08-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Tuesday, August 10,_197f

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Five

Jury finds Harrises guilty

(Continued from Page )
prejudicial remark. However,
the judge ordered a hearing for
today to probe further whether
any of the jurors were tainted
by prejudice.
In an unusual move, the jur-
ors themselves sent word they
wanted to remain sequestered
at a hotel overnight and the
judge granted the request. They
made the unique suggestion af-
ter the judge ordered them not
to discuss any aspect of the
case with anyone - even rela-
tives - until today's hearing
is over.
EXCEPT FOR juror Ronald
Pruyn, the jury is unaware
that its honesty and therefore
its verdict was being ques-
tioned. The judge also told jur-
ors not to read newspapers, lis-
ten to radio or television ac-
counts of the verdict.
Sentencing for the Harrises
was tentatively set for Aug.
30.
"We're very gratified that
they were acquitted on all
charges involving the shooting
at Mel's Sporting Goods," said
the chief defense attorney
Leonard Weinglass. He added
he was "surprised and dis-
tressed" about the kidnaping
convictions.
The verdicts came amid a
raging dispute over defense con-
tentions that a mistrial is re-
quired.
THE COURT proceedings re-
mained in session, and mem-
bers of the jury were expected
to be individually polled on whe-
ther they were affected by al-
leged incidents of prejudice re-
vealed after the jurors were
deliberating.
Weinglass had said moments
before the verdicts came in
that "there could not possibly
be any public confidence in this
verdict."
The prosecutor said that
if there is any sign the jury
was tainted with bias, "we will
join in any motion for a new
trial by the defendants."
THE ACQUITTALS on the six
assault charges - the first ver-
dicts read in the hushed court-
room - vindicated the Har-
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rises, who had contended that
the 22-year-old Hearst was a
self - willed gunwoman when
she whipped out a machine gun
and fired wildly to free the
couple from a possible shoplift-
ing arrest.
The newspaper heiress, now
a convicted bank robber, ad-
mitted the assault during her
San Francisco bank robbery
trial. But she claimed that she
fired out of "a reflex action,"
in fear of the Harrises and oth-
er members of the terrorist
group which had kidnaped her
on Feb. 4, 1974.
The machine-gun assault at
an Inglewood sporting goods
store came on May 16, 1974, just
a month after the Hibernia
Bank robbery in San Francisco
of which Miss Hearst stands
convicted.
The Harrises' convictions of
two kidnapings and a robbery
also involve Hearst. She is to
be tried on the same 11 charg-
es of the indictment next Jan.
10.
SHE HAS SAID she was with
the Harrises when they com-
mandeered the cars of young
college student Tom Matthews
and middle-aged contractor
Frank Sutter. Matthews de-
scribed Hearst as a kindly cap-
tor who patted his head and
asked after his comforts.
But Sutter portrayed her as
a gun-toting member of the
gang, pointing a gun at him

as he was abducted.
Some of the verdicts were
dated Aug. 5, but among the
last to be returned were the
charges which had brought the
jurors back to the courtroom
to rehear testimony - those in-
volving the absent co-defendant,
Hearst.
THOSE WERE the six as-
sault charges and the kidnap-
ing of Matthews, who said he
didn't believe he was a kid-
nap victim. The jurors found
the Harrises guilty of the
Matthews kidnaping.
The jurors found that the
Harrises did rob' Sutter of $250
but rejected the claim that the
trio had robbery in mind when
they commandeered Sutter's
car in Griffith Park.
In addition, the jurors found
the Harrises guilty of five
charges of firearms violations.
THE JURORS were solemn
as Court Clerk Steven Brown
asked them after each of the
22 verdicts - "Ladies and
gentlemen of the jury, is this
your verdict? So say you one so
say you all?"
The jurors, who had delib-
erated 8 days for a total of
S1 hours, nodded in unison and
answered, "Yes."
But their verdict did not end
a raging controversy, which
was fired earlier in the day by
testimony and led to last-mm-

ute motions for mistrial and
dismissal.
SUPERIOR COURT Judge
Mark Brandler, who has re-
fused many similar motions,
turned down the defense again.
Weinglass said that irregu-
larities and misconduct during
the trial had made the reading
of the verdict "a farce."
le asked the judge to

"cleanse this system of this
case."
"TIERE could not possibly
be any public confidence in this
verdict," Weinglass said. "This
proceeding is so infected with
so many errors, with errors of
judgme"t and misconduct, as
not to be able to survive any
test of due process."

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