CHICAGO – A one-time follower of white supremacist Matthew Hale testified Tuesday that Hale, angry over the outcome of a lawsuit, asked him if he would kill a federal judge, three lawyers and a minister involved in the case.
“He shouted how he wanted them dead – the judge and the attorneys, they had to die,” Jon Fox said in the second day of testimony in Hale’s trial.
Hale, 32, whose organization preached racial holy war, is charged with solicitation to commit murder and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors say he became furious with Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in 2002 when she issued an order barring his group from using the name World Church of the Creator. The name is trademarked by an Oregon religious organization that has no ties to Hale.
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In opening statements Monday, the defense argued that the FBI planted a mole to lure Hale into a murder plot. The FBI informant, who became a member of Hale’s security force and secretly taped conversations with Hale, is also expected to testify.
Fox, 44, testified Tuesday that Hale told him in December 2002 that he wanted the Oregon minister’s “church burned down around his head.”
“He just straight up asked if I or anybody I knew in the organization could do that,” Fox told prosecutors.
“And what did you tell him?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Victoria J. Peters asked.
Fox replied: “I told him no.”
Defense attorney Thomas Anthony Durkin tried to discredit Fox’s testimony during cross examination.
Fox said he had been living in a homeless shelter with his three children until the fall of 2002, when Hale brought him to Illinois to head his white supremacist group’s state chapter.
He said he joined Hale’s group because he wanted to become politically active after the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
“Is that because you believed the Jews were responsible for 9-11?” Durkin asked.
“I believe so,” Fox said, acknowledging that he continues to believe in the doctrines of Ben Klassen, the founder of Hale’s group, as outlined in “The White Man’s Bible.”
Fox is no longer a member of the group.