Former ‘reverend’ will testify against Matt Hale

Ex-aide says he was asked to kill judge

CHICAGO – A former “reverend” in Matt Hale‘s racist organization is prepared to turn against Hale at his upcoming murder-solicitation trial, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

The potential government witness, identified as Jon Fox, would testify that Hale asked him in early December 2002 to kill a U.S. judge in Chicago or identify someone else who would do it, according to a government motion.

The judge, Joan Humphrey Lefkow, had issued an order against Hale’s World Church of the Creator in a trademark-infringement suit brought by an Oregon church of a similar name. Hale also asked Fox to kill the attorneys representing the Oregon church and wanted it “burned down around its director,” the court filing said.

Hale, 32, of East Peoria was arrested Jan. 8 after he allegedly encouraged another church member – actually an FBI informant – to kill Lefkow. Prosecutors seek the court’s permission to call Fox to the stand to bolster the case.

They say Fox is a former World Church “reverend” from Illinois who enjoyed Hale’s trust. Fox “declined” Hale’s invitation to commit murder and told him he could not find a “lone wolf” to carry out the crime, the government said.

A man who identified himself as Jon Fox was among Hale followers who traveled to Chicago in January as Hale prepared to attend a hearing before Lefkow. After Hale’s sudden arrest, Fox told reporters then that the government’s allegations were “a complete lie” and that the World Church of the Creator condemned violence.

The potential witness only recently provided sworn statements to investigators that Hale solicited him to commit murder, prosecutors said.

Hale defense attorney Thomas A. Durkin said the request by prosecutors to use Fox’s testimony is “a government Hail Mary pass to bail out an incredibly weak case.” He declined to discuss the development in detail but said it probably wouldn’t delay the Nov. 3 start date for Hale’s jury trial at Chicago’s Dirksen Federal Building.

Hale has been held without bond at the nearby Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Prosecutors also seek to admit evidence that Hale knew about or orchestrated the July 1999 shooting spree of Benjamin Smith. Smith, a 21-year-old Hale disciple, killed two minorities and wounded several others, including a Springfield man, before he committed suicide.

If allowed to testify, Fox would relate Hale’s private statements to him about the rampage, prosecutors said. The statements would show “Hale had reasons to suspect Smith would engage a deadly shooting spree in advance of Smith’s actions,” the court filing said.

Hale’s white-supremacist organization is now known as the Creativity Movement.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Copley News Service, USA
Oct. 22, 2003
Mike Ramsey

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday October 23, 2003.
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