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Page 10-Wednesday, February 13, 1980-The Michigan Daily
From AP and UPI
WINAMAC, Ind. - The prosecution rested its
case yesterday in Ford Motor Co.'s reckless
homicide trial after a final, unsuccessful at-
tempt to introduce what it considered key
evidence on auto crash tests.
Pulaski Circuit Judge Harold Staffeldt tur-
ned down Ford attorney James Neal's request
for a directed verdict of acquittal, and the
automaker is scheduled to begin presenting its
"I AGREE with the prosecution that there is
a question for the jury, and where there is a
question for the jury it would be error to do
anything other than deny the motion," Staffeldt
Neal had argued the judge should grant a
directed verdict of acquittal on grounds the
state had failed to prove its case -the first
criminal prosecution of a manufacturer in an
auto defects case.
Ford is charged with three counts of reckless
homicide in the August 1978 burning deaths of
three teenagers in a 1973 Pinto sedan that ex-
ploded when struck from behind on a northern
THE STATE contends the automaker knew
Pinto fuel tanks were subject to explosion in
rear-end collisions but did nothing about it. The
defense sags the Pinto was no more dangerous,
and possibly a little safer, than other subcom-
Before resting his case, chief prosecutor
Michael Cosentino again tried to enter as
evidence results of crash tests on vehicles other
than the 1973 Pinto and on Pintos made before
and after 1973. He argued that the tests would
reveal a pattern showing Ford knew of defects
in the Pinto from the time it first was produced
in. 1970 but refused to make modifications to
eliminate fire hazards and failed to warn the
As he has done repeatedly during the six-
week trial, Staffeldt ruled those crash tests
were irrelevant to the Indiana case.
STAFFELDT TOLD lawyers in the case that
he had liked both arguments during the 75-
minute hearing on the motions.
Staffeldt added that it would be in error to-
dismiss the case because he would be ruling on
the weight of the evidence and credibility
testimony - the duty of a jury in a criminal
Ford attorney Malcom Wheeler of New York
argued the case for the directed verdict during
the afternoon hearing.
THE FORD attorneys also wanted to throw
out parts of the testimony presented by safety
design expert Byron Bloch of West Los
Angeles, Calif. and that of Mrs. Earl Ulrich,
mother of two of the girls who died.
. Staffeldt ruled against Ford on Ulrich's
testimony about what she would have done with
the 1973 Pinto if she had received a recall notice
before the Aug. 10, 1978 tragic collision.
Ford withdrew motions to stike Bloch's
COSENTINO WAS relieved once Ford's
motions were rejected.
"I feel much better now after the rulirng than
I did this morning," he explained at the post-
Once Neal starts his presentation, Cosentino
said he would renew efforts to have some of his
documents brought into evidence.
"I HOPE some doors open and I hope we can
charge right through," he said.
Neal said he expected to take the rest of the
month to complete Ford's defense. He said he
had expected the decision on the motion for
The prosecution's final witness, former Ford
executive Harley Copp, completed six days of
testimony yesterday by saying style came
before safety in design of the Pinto.
Copp, who was Ford's vice president for
European operations and later supervised
crash tests in the United States, said the fuel
tank on the 1973 Pinto subcompact had an odd
shape - similar to a step - because it was
designed to fit the pre-determined styling of the
"The engineers were left with a minimum of
space for the spare tire, fuel tank and luggage
compartment," he said.
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From AP and UP]
WASHINGTON - President Carter
proposed yesterday the nation's ,first
coordinated effort to store nuclear ga
bage, planning to spend $700 million
examine salt domes and other sites in
the South and West as potential
The president said in a special
message to Congress the new strategy
is aimed at ensuring the radioactive
garbage will pose no significant threat
to public health and safety now or for
THE "PLANS include both a per-
manent burying ground for radioactiv
wastes, mostly from nuclear weapo
production, and storage for spent
nuclear fuel, from which plutonium and
other valgable isotopes could some day
- The president's plan calls for con-
tinuing the storage of spent nuclear fuel
from the nation's 72 commercial power
reactors in water pools at the plant site
until -a permanent facility is developed
- preferably away from any power
But he said he will continue pressing
for legislation to build such a storage
center away from power plants.
Underground rock formations will be
sought as permanent repositories for
the highly radioactive waste materials.
Eleven sites are under study by the
Department of Energy.
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