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Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico • Page 37
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Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico • Page 37

Albuquerque, New Mexico
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hi Th- METROPOLITAN Friday, March 19, 1993 Albuquerque Journal Page 1, Section 7T Judge Hands By er Life Sentence T6m Gardner THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Habitual Criminal Will First Serve N.M. Term A police check showed Byers was wanted for escaping last September from the Sandoval County jail in Bernalillo, where he had been awaiting sentencing for larceny. In that escape, Byers and two other inmates scaled a 15-foot high basketball backboard and cut a hole in a chain-link ceiling of the jail's recreation yard. In a prior escape last May, Byers posed as an attorney and walked out the Sandoval County Judicial Complex's front door. He pleaded guilty earlier last year to fraud and forgery in neighboring Bernalillo County and had been sentenced to 16 years.

His criminal exploits in New Mexico include his posing as a homebuyer with a female accomplice and stealing jewelry, credit cards and money from homes. In addition to his 16-year prison sentence on the fraud charges, he got five years' probation and was ordered to make restitution payments to 15 people and two companies totaling $19,501. 1 RENO, Nev. The guile of New Mexico fugitive Steven Byers failed to convince a jury that he was insane and didn't sway a judge who sentenced him Thursday to life in prison as an habitual offender, i Judge Jerry Whitehead agreed with the prosecution that Steven Byers had lived a life of crime, but concurred with the defense that having Byers serve his full sentence in Nevada would be unfair to the state's taxpayers. court has no question but to declare you are an habitual offender and sentence you under that statute," Whitehead said.

"New Mexico convicted you first and you have been sentenced there. I believe you should be returned to New Mexico to serve those first." A Washoe District Court jury took just 34 minutes on March 3 to find Byers guilty of charges of possession of a stolen car, burglary and possession of burglary tools during a three-week crime spree late last year. Byers, 29, of Albuquerque, had pleaded innocent by reason of insanity, saying an inner voice drove him to commit the crimes. Whitehead sentenced him to life with the possibility of parole on the stolen car count, a consecutive term of life with the possibility of parole for burglary and a concurrent one-year term for possession of burglary tools. Byers, his wrists and ankles shackled and wearing the red jumpsuit that signifies a problem prisoner, spoke briefly Thursday.

"I am a criminal. I have committed crimes. But with counseling in prison I can become a productive citizen," he said haltingly. But the judge said that while Byers is intelligent, he has shown repeatedly he wants to use his abilities for criminal activity. "You come before this court with 27 felony convictions causing harm to many people," he said.

Deputy District Attorney Karla Butko said that record more than justified the harsh sentence. "The' habitual criminal status is for people like Mr. Byers. The obligation of the court has to be to protect the community from Mr. Byers," she told the judge.

Byers' attorney, John Ohlson, urged the judge to let him finish his term in New Mexico first Byers, who was arrested after a police chase in Reno, escaped from custody in New Mexico twice last year. And a sheriffs sergeant testified Thursday that he was planning to flee from the jail here Customers at a Sparks casino restaurant on Nov. 5 helped police subdue Byers after he fell on their table during a struggle with officers. Indian School Fire Officers Testify Hospital To Halt 1. Burninj Against Gallagher I VA Incinerator To Shut by April 1 By Susanne Burks JOURNAL STAFF WRITER T- -rr 'uzjlz rr-- 1 tfj A- Two sheriffs officers and a former By Rene Kimball 'in i i i JOURNAL STAFF WRITER Officer testified Thursday in Sheriff Ray Gallagher's civil removal-from-office trial that their jobs suffered after they became involved in another deputy's sex-offense case.

Chief Deputy Worth French, who works directly under Gallagher, said his relation-Ship with the sheriff deteriorated after he 1 tmT in I ii A 1 1 zr. w-''jpibir 1 ri rn-e- nap anq nqp PR MM MM MMH hllKT Ti i i 1 till I I I LIU gave a statement in the criminal case against Deputy Darryl Burt. He said he eventually was relieved of many supervisory responsibilities. Sgt Bruce Ford testified he was transferred from the criminalistics unit to patrol duty the day after he testified in A fire burned the last remaining building at the Old Albuquerque Indian School Thursday morning. Albuquerque Fire Department crews, including three pumpers, a ladder truck and a rescue unit, were dispatched to the scene at about 7 a.m.

as heavy black smoke billowed from the building. The fire, which closed Indian School and 12th Street for several hours, was brought under control at about 10 a.m. Witnesses reported seeing six adult males leaving the condemned building. Fire officials are treating the blaze as suspicious. r9ii9.h, i Burt's first triaL PiiWlt'ii Former detective Bob-II Jj bie Wade Hopkins, the alleged first officer contacted by Burt's alleged victim, said Gallagher was unpleasant to her after that and she no longer was assigned new cases.

She left the department Jan. 22. On the second day of Gallagher's trial Thursday, testimony centered on the alleged intimidation of employees by the sheriff and his destruction of alleged evidence in the Burt case. Burt's first trial ended in a mistrial in February 1992, and he was acquitted of all charges in a November trial He had been accused of sexually molesting a male motorist after a traffic stop on March 24, 1991. Testimony in the February trial that Gallagher destroyed a tissue and an anonymous letter led to a grand jury investigation and ultimately Gallagher's current trial before state District Judge Philip Ashby.

The grand jury sought Gallagher's re-noval from office on grounds of obstruc-ion of justice and conspiracy to obstruct ustice, corruption and fiscal improp-ieties. All three witnesses Thursday testified in different ways that the tissue found wrapped around the motorist's car keys the norning after the traffic stop was botential evidence. Defense attorney Ron Koch continued trying to show that the jtissue had no value as evidence. French testified that Gallagher showed jhim a letter mentioning Burt and another man whom it identified "as a lover of Darryl Burt." French said he subsequently saw the sheriff tear up the letter. i French testified that after he gave a statement in the Burt case, Gallagher became cold "and stopped talking to me." Hopkins testified she was contacted by pxi acquaintance about the alleged sexual molestation and met the woman and the I 1 I I.

IT i a 9- New Mexico's last medical waste incinerator must shut down by April 1 after local air regulators denied the Veterans Administration Hospital a variance to allow it to burn while the hospital builds a new incinerator. The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board voted down the variance 3-1 after a four-hour public hearing Wednesday night, amid complaints from some board members that the city air staff didn't give enough notice of the hearing to people living near the incinerator. The vote came after testimony from city staff and a consultant hired by the hospital that the old incinerator doesn't pose an immediate health risk to anyone. City Environmental Health director Sarah Kotchian had recommended the board grant a 364-day variance. Two board members questioned the validity of data used in evaluating whether the incinerator is a health hazard, and a state air official advised the board against accepting only the consultant's testimony as conclusive on the health issue.

But no one offered testimony that the incinerator is dangerous. The present incinerator cannot meet pollution limits in a board regulation that will go into effect April 1. A VA hospital representative said the hospital plans to build a new $1 million incinerator that will be able to meet the limits. That unit could be ready by April 1994, said hospital industrial hygienist Jim Brooks. Board members voting against the variance said the hospital failed to prove its claims that a shutdown would cause undue financial hardship for the institution.

They also said the hospital should have acted sooner to begin work on a replacement incinerator. Hospital industrial hygienist Jim Brooks said the cost of shipping the waste out of state until October, the beginning of the new federal fiscal year, would run about $70,000. The hospital burns about 400 pounds a day of medical waste, which typically contains plastics, cloth and disposable items anything that could be contaminated with body fluids or that has come in contact with patients. VA hospital spokesman Ron Lopez said Thursday the hospital is looking at appeal options. "We feel the decision was based on emotion and subjectivity rather than the technical merits and the health issue to the community," he said.

If there is no successful appeal by the end of this month, the hospital will have to contract with an outside firm to ship its medical waste out of state, Lopez said. A Seattle consultant hired by the hospital testified Wednesday that the present in-; cinerator does not present a health threat. "We've got to stop being hypocritical about incinerator emissions and start looking at the real world," said Kay H. Jones, of Zephyr Consulting. City air staff member George Dingman also said at the hearing that the incinerator poses no threat to public health.

But board president Lynda Taylor and vice president William Lambert expressed doubts about the validity of emissions data used by Jones to come up with his risk assessment. The data was from a test done for internal hospital use, they said, and did not meet procedural requirements for annual tests that will be required once the incinerator regulation goes into effect April 1. Board member Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez also said the hospital didn't prove a claim that shutting down the incinerator would amount to a "taking" of property, i f4. i.r;-"f NV 1 I 4 'i umale motorist in a bar. The woman showed per the alleged victim's car keys, which were wrapped in a tissue.

flTiite-Supremacist Stickers Plague Bookstore John Fleck 1 Crime, Limbaugh Books Recipients of Message jJOtjjRNAL STAFF WRITER There it was, staring up out of page 144 of Reynold Bunzell's brand new copy of "The Milwaukee Murders: Nightmare in Apart ment 2X3. ftight next to a picture of famed cannibal Jeffrey Daumer, someone had stuck a million verdict against him. Metzger was also sentenced to six months in jail in January 1992 for his role in a 1983 cross burning in Los Angeles. Morris Casuto, a California Anti-Defamation League official who tracks Metzger's activities, said the stickers have also shown up in bookstores in the San Diego area. Casuto called the stickers "pathetic." He said the fact that someone felt they had to sneak into bookstores to promote Metzger and his views was a sign of how publicly unacceptable those views really are.

"Someone does something like this because they realize they are persona non grata," Casuto said. "They do it this way, surreptitiously, because they are afraid of being caught" Bunzell and Bookstar, the Albuquerque store where he bought the book, were victims of someone who went into the store and surreptitiously slipped stickers advertising the phone number for Metz-ger's "White Aryan Resistance" organization into books. According to Bunzell and Susan Seligman of the New Mexico branch of the Anti-Defamation League, the stickers were stuck inside various true crime books. They were also stuck in media megastar Rush Limbaugh's "The Way Things Ought to Be." Bookstar personnel would not comment, but Seligman said it got so bad the store had to pull Limbaugh's book from display and put it behind the checkout counter. On the telephone tape, Metzger encourages callers to send money for his monthly newspaper "the most totally racist paper in North America" and calls for a "total purge" and an "Aryan renaissance in North America." He does not explain what a "total purge" or an "Aryan renaissance" wduld entail, and he could not be reached Thursday for comment.

In 1990, a Portland, jury found in a civil trial that Metzger had offered substantial aid and assistance to three men who killed an Ethiopian man there in 1988. Metzger has appealed the jury's $12.5 ''Earth's most endangered species, the Iwhite race," it said. "Help preserve it." And a fchone number. At the other end of the phone number was a tape-recorded polemic by convicted California cross-burner Tom Metzger on the "never-ending struggle between Aryan..

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