Thursday, 03 December 2009 22:31 OPP HQ
Well, tomorrow might be the day we find out the fate of Hal Turner. Today both sides rested with the defense not calling a single witness nor presenting a single bit of evidence. And this is all with the hoopla that NJ Gov.-Elect Chris Christie was going to be called to explain Turner’s relationship with the FBI. Meanwhile the defense called six witnesses, all federal law enforcement, and produced what was on Turner’s website for the jury to mull over. Tomorrow begins the closing statements, and we might have a verdict before day’s end. Honestly, this can go either way. One thing for certain though, federal informants are going to be on a tighter leash after all the people Turner screwed with opens up the proverbial can of whoopass on some feds for screwing up this badly. Meanwhile, Christie gets a pass. Bottom line, the evidence that he had a hand in his crap didn’t materialize. Will it ever? We will see, but for now he has nothing to worry about. For the next 24 hours, the only one who might be having a restless night will be Turner.
One People’s Project
BROOKLYN, NY - Without the prosecution calling three federal judges to the stand as intended, or the defense calling any witnesses at all, both camps in Hal Turner’s federal trial rested their cases today after two final witnesses, one an FBI agent and another, a Deputy US Marshall. The defense, which subpoenaed the Gov.-elect of New Jersey to testify, said the prosecution did not make their case that the white supremacist internet radio host was actually attempting to incite violence against three federal judges in Chicago as charged, while the prosecution said otherwise.
In all, the prosecution called six witnesses – five FBI agents and one Deputy U.S. Marshall – out of a reported 18 they had intended to call. Those that were not called included the three judges that were allegedly threatened. Lead Prosecutor William Hogan said after all of the evidence they had presented over the past few days, it was not necessary to call anymore witnesses. “We feel like we proved our case,” he said.
Meanwhile, the defense felt that the prosecution attempted to make things convoluted by bringing up issues they felt were not relevant to the case. According to Lead Defense Attorney Michael Orozco, the prosecution was stopped from presenting some evidence such as blog postings and emails on the grounds that it was an attempt to prove a solicitation case as opposed to an incitement case. “It was the prosecution again trying to muddy the waters,” he said, referring to the perceived attempts during the trial.
Indeed, a series of emails and blog entries were read into the record by both witnesses today, and the defense indicated for each time that the none of them resulted in Turner’s arrest, indicating he was not committing any crimes with any of his writings. Deputy Marshall James Elcik testified to even going to his home to interview him on June 25, 2008 about one of his postings, that of the children and grandchildren of US Supreme Court Justices. Turner was upset about the Court’s ruling that there will be no death penalty for those convicted of raping children, but an hour after the interview, where it was asked that he remove the information on those family members, he did so, saying that he misspoke.
Dep. Elcik also testified that in Oct. 2008, Turner left him a phone message saying he had information about a truck bomb threat to the courthouse in Roanoke, VA. While the information was not detailed, that was the month in which fellow neo-Nazi Bill White was arrested on charges that he had threatened a juror in the trial of World Church of the Creator’s Matt Hale when he was charged and eventually convicted of soliciting the murder of a federal judge, also in Chicago. For some time afterward, he frequently spoke with Turner, who later sent him an email in an effort to be an informant for US Marshals. A little more than a year earlier, the FBI, whom Turner had informed for previously, had ended their association, noting his status “closed for cause”, meaning he was no longer suitable for the government to maintain his informant status. The reason citied was “serious control problems”.
Turner never became an informant for the US Marshals. Bill White eventually had the charges in his case on him dropped, but he is still due to stand trial next week in Roanoke on threats towards others he has made.
In an interview after today’s proceedings, Orozco painted Turner as a “extremely patriotic individual” who, as evidenced by his Hispanic lawyers, his wife having a Jewish doctor, him once chairing the New Jersey gubernatorial campaign of third-party candidate Murray Sabrin, who is Jewish in 1996, and his working relationship with a African American FBI agent, that he is not a racist.
Orozco also maintains that Turner had been working with the FBI as far back as 2002, not June 12, 2003, which was shown during the trial. It was early in 2002 that Turner became openly involved in white power circles, him publicly saying that he did so in response to the NJ Republican Party passing him over as a congressional candidate in 2000 for a Hispanic woman who eventually lost to now- Senator Robert Melendez. It had been maintained by Turner and his defense team that it was the FBI who encouraged and paid him to take on the role of a violent hatemonger, and that this trial is a betrayal of him on the part of the FBI. While Orozco admitted they did not have documentation showing a possible 2002 affiliation, there is documentation showing that in 1993, while working for the Pat Buchanan presidential campaign, the FBI approached him to determine if questionable elements were involved as well. Orozco said Turner cooperated with the authorities, but was unable to provide any information.
Another matter that had surfaced leading up to the trial was the possibility of New Jersey Gov.-Elect Chris Christie testifying to a letter the defense claimed was a “blanket declaration” by then US Attorney Christie that Turner was not going to be prosecuted for anything he did while an FBI informant. According to Orozco, there had been two US Marshals that mentioned the letter, and if certain evidence was presented by the prosecution, the defense wanted to call Christie to speak on the matter. “We believe it existed.” Orozco said of the letter. “We believe it was drafted by Christie sometime during his tenure.” Christie had been served a subpoena on Tuesday, and was still conferring with his advisors on the matter. To that end, Orozoco says that anyone who has issues with how Turner’s antics during the time he was working with the government, such as places that he held rallies such as Kalamazoo, Michigan, Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ and Kingston, NY, not to hold his client accountable. “Tell them to go to the FBI,” Orozoco said. “It’s not Mr. Turner’s problem!” The Mayor of Kingston, NY has in fact approached the FBI for reimbursement for costs accrued during Turner’s 2005 hate rally.
Closing statements will begin on Friday, and the jury is expected to get the case by the afternoon.