Hale cleared of one charge

But white supremacist will still face sentencing for soliciting murder

CHICAGO – A federal judge has negated a portion of Matt Hale‘s criminal conviction from April but affirmed a jury’s key verdict that the white supremacist solicited the murder of a court official.

U.S. District Judge James Moody earlier this month denied Hale’s request for a new trial but acquitted the 33-year-old East Peorian of one count of obstructing justice. The charge stemmed from allegations that Hale told his father to lie to a grand jury and that the younger Hale started crying during a 1999 television interview about a follower’s deadly rampage and had to stop the interview.

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Moody, who presided over Hale’s trial, said former CNN field producer Tracey Scruggs contradicted Hale’s account on the witness stand but jurors should have considered other information presented in court.

Hale was in jail and knew the government was monitoring his phone conversation when he talked to his father, retiree Russell Hale, in April 2003 about the grand jury investigation into the July 1999 shooting spree of Benjamin Smith, which left two minorities dead. In a recording played for jurors, Hale said he would not “sound like a guilty party” if his father mentioned he cried over Smith’s suicide.

Moody, in a ruling dated Nov. 10, rejected Hale’s attempts to nullify three other counts against him in the conviction.

The central charge was that Hale, former leader of the World Church of the Creator, encouraged his bodyguard, actually an FBI informant, to kill U.S. Judge Joan Lefkow in late 2002 after she barred his white-power group from using that trademarked name. Lefkow was never harmed.

Hale is being held in a federal jail in downtown Chicago. His sentencing has been postponed indefinitely while the U.S. Supreme Court considers two cases that may affect how federal judges impose punishments.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Journal Star News, USA
Nov. 30, 2004
Mike Ramsey, Copley News Service

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