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Jury hears Hale taped with dad

Chicago Tribune, USA
Apr. 20, 2004
Matt O'Connor, Tribune staff reporter
www.chicagotribune.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Tuesday April 20, 2004

Prosecutors played a tape Monday at the trial of white supremacist Matthew Hale in which Hale, already in prison on charges of soliciting the murder of a federal judge, appeared to coach his father on how to testify before a grand jury in April 2003.

In the taped conversation from a Loop federal prison, Hale reminded his father, Russell Hale Sr., how he had to cut off an interview with CNN the day after a deadly shooting spree by a Hale follower because “I start(ed) crying.”

But the federal jury deciding Hale’s fate later viewed the CNN interview that showed an unemotional Hale answering questions about Ben Smith’s two-state spree in which two were killed and nine injured over the 4th of July weekend in 1999. Smith also died.

Hale is charged with obstructing justice for allegedly instructing his father to falsely testify before a grand jury investigating possible links between Hale and Smith’s killing spree.

Hale, the “Pontifex Maximus” of the former World Church of the Creator, is also on trial in federal court in Chicago on charges he solicited the murder of a federal judge after she ordered the church to change its name after losing a trademark-infringement lawsuit.

In an unusual move Monday, prosecutors didn’t ask a single follow-up question after Anthony Evola, a federal informant whose secretly recorded tapes are a key part of the government’s murder-solicitation case against Hale, finished parts of four days undergoing cross-examination by Hale’s lawyer.

Evola testified Monday that Hale “teared up” in May 2000 when he gave Hale, with the FBI’s approval, a T-shirt commemorating Smith as a “1st Amendment martyr.”

Hale’s lawyer, Thomas Anthony Durkin, quoted from an FBI interview of Evola at the time that indicated that Hale had “hugged” the T-shirt on receiving the present.

Prosecutors M. David Weisman and Victoria Peters are expected to finish their case Tuesday against Hale after possibly calling one more witness.

Durkin told the judge presiding over the case Monday that Hale wouldn’t be testifying in his own defense. The defense may call Hale’s father and another witness.

Closing arguments are expected Wednesday.

FBI Special Agent Judith Coughenour testified about how a dozen agents took 7 1/2 hours to search the world headquarters of the World Church of the Creator following Hale’s arrest early last year in Chicago’s federal courthouse on the murder-solicitation charge.

Agents removed dozens of books and pamphlets with the name of the World Church of the Creator on them because they were in violation of a court order in the trademark-infringement lawsuit lost by the church, Coughenour said.

In a motion filed Monday, Durkin asked that jurors be questioned individually whether they had seen or read a commentary piece about Hale in Monday’s Tribune. He also moved that the jury be sequestered the rest of the trial.

“I’ve never seen an article so deliberately targeted at jurors,” Durkin said of the op-ed piece, written by former and current officials of the Anti-Defamation League. “It’s a flat-out call to jurors to convict.”

U.S. District Judge James Moody denied both requests.

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