The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 30, 1997 · Page 1
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 1

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Salina, Kansas
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Wednesday, April 30, 1997
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Convicted Military jury finds staff sergeant guilty of raping six women trainees/A4 MEWS Festive 5th Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with chicken enchiladas / D1 FOOD • ISSIling OPdePS: Christian court orders arrest of Gov. Bill Graves / B1 • NOW Wildcat: K State signs forward from North Dakota school / C1 INSIDE jJE*i»!^^:^>iia£ir Hpl! 63 Low: 40 Partly cloudy today with northwest winds 20 to 30 mph / B3 WEATHER the Salina Journal Classified / C5 Comics / B4 Deaths / A7 Food/D1 Great Plains / B1 Money / D3 Sports / C1 Viewpoints / B2 ; ; INDEX-•< Serving Kansas since 1871 WEDNESDAY APRIL 30, 1997 SALINA, KANSAS 50 cents Hearing offers few details Seven witnesses testify for prosecution of White in triple-murder case By DAVID CLOUSTON The Salina Journal Prosecutors say genetic evidence links Alan Eugene White to a brutal triple murder in east Salina last summer. But by the end of the first day of White's preliminary hearing, no witness for the state had explained that link or suggested other ways White was responsible. District Judge Dan Boyer ruled that DNA test results, contained ' in a report from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, can be submitted as an exhibit in the hearing so it can be considered when he decides whether there is enough .evidence against White to order him to stand trial. • White's attorneys objected, saying they were not prepared to challenge the genetic information because they had only recently received information from the prosecution regarding how the testing was done. "That's the key evidence, by the , state's own admission," defense attorney Jeffrey Moots said. The hearing, which began Tuesday in Saline County District Court, could be concluded today. White, 26, a former Salinan, is charged with four counts of capital murder and other charges. If convicted, he could face the death penalty for the slayings of Delores McKim, 81, 1721 Glen, her daughter, Carol Abercrombie, 56, Soddy- Daisy, Tenn., and Abercrombie's grandson, Christopher Abercrombie, 5, Greenville, N.C. Their bodies were found bludgeoned to death in McKim's east Salina home last July 21. White, an acquaintance of McKim's late husband, was captured in Boston after a nationwide manhunt and a portrayal of the crime on the "America's Most- Wanted" television program. The hearing got under way about an hour late Tuesday, after Boyer finished attending to other cases. The crowd was on hand including many family members of the victims and White's parents. Saline County Attorney Julie McKenna called seven witnesses -to testify, including law officers who worked the crime scene, the pathologist who did the autopsies and White's former girlfriend, Tanya Mayfield. Mayfield lives at an apartment complex on East Crawford Street . near where McKim's stolen 1988 maroon Oldsmobile Was found on the day the bodies were discovered. Mayfield said she did not see or speak to White on July 20 ,or21. See WHITE, Page A7 TOM DORSEY/The Salina Journal Alan Eugene White (left) Is flanked by,his attorneys — Jeffrey Moots (left) and Benjamin Wood — during Tuesday's preliminary hearing in Saline County District Court. White, a former Salinan, is charged with four counts of capital murder. Courtroom drama lures spectators Minneapolis students and a woman who may write book are among the onlookers By SHARON MdRtAGUE The Salina Journal It had been two or three weeks since John Hamilton had made the trek to the third floor of the City-County Building, 300 W. Ash, but the veteran court watcher knew what to expect. Alan White's preliminary hearing Tuesday on capital murder charges was probably the eighth or ninth such hearing the retired furniture salesman from Texas had watched in the past four years. "I happen to live across the street, and it's very convenient," Hamilton, 217 W. Ash, said during a break in the hearing. "I just find these things interesting." While Hamilton has made a hobby out of watching trials, four students in a law class at Minneapolis High School and their teacher, Lana Reinhart, were getting their first taste of courtroom drama. The class had followed developments in the murder case since school started, and the students were to spend the day in the courtroom. After watchtng testimony for about an hour, 16-year-ipld sophomore Jeremy Duskin said the hearing was proceeding like those he'd watched on television, "The lawyers stand up and make their objections, just like on 'Matlock,' " Duskin said. The only difference is the pace, he said — television goes much more quickly. Woman takes notes for possible book In the seats behind the students, a woman who asked that her name not be used, was filling pages in a legal pad with notes for a possible "creative nonfiction" book on the murders. The woman, who will get her master's degree in creative writing from Wichita State University in May, said she had followed the case closely. "I went to high school with Alan White, and grade school," she said. "I never knew him personally, but I knew him. "The events are just so powerful, it really seems like a good story." The crowd of curious onlookers included fewer than two dozen courthouse employ- ees, attorneys and others coming and going from the courtroom as the day wore on. But it did draw more than a dozen relatives of the victims of the triple homicide, who were seated at the front of the courtroom, behind the prosecution table. • On the other side of the courtroom, Larry and Jo White of Georgia sat behind their son as he faced the witnesses against him. Members of the media also were present, with one still camera and one television camera in the courtroom, and reporters and camera operators from at least three Topeka and Wichita television stations in a nearby media room, watching the proceedings via video. While security didn't seem cumbersome, it was present. At least three sheriffs deputies were in the courtroom at all times — two near the defense table and one sitting in the front row on the defense side — and two stood outside most of the day. Each person who entered the courtroom first had to empty his/her pockets, submit to a search of any purse or briefcase and walk through a metal detector. Such security measures have become commonplace in high-profile court proceedings. V IDLED FARMLAND House extends conservation program 'Glickman says keeping acres idle may add to wheat supply problems By CURT ANDERSON Jhe Associated Press . > ; - WASHINGTON — A one-year extension of a land conservation program for winter wheat passed the House on Tuesday, but Agri- culfure Secretary Dan Glickman Warned that it could compound wheat supply problems. •" Glickman said in a letter to House sponsors that extension of the-Conservation Reserve Program would idle millions of acres just as this year's wheat crop is suffering from freezes and floods around the country. The extension "precludes millions of acres of farmland from returning to production next year to help rebuld this country's very low wheat stocks," Glickman said. But the House voted 325-90 to pass the legislation, which affects wheat, barley and oats producers in areas where the crops are planted in the fall, including Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Oregon. Farmers would be able to keep acreage idle under the Conservation Reserve Program for an- GLICKMAN "" jected by the Department of Agriculture. This would give farmers time to prepare the ground, now covered with trees or grass, for crop planting in fall 1998. If they are not notified about their CRP acres until summer, some farmers fear losing both a crop and a government payment this year. "Most of these producers cannot and will not gamble on waiting for the USDA to make a decision," said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Smith, R-Ore. Contracts on 22 million acres of CRP land expire in September, and farmers have offered 26 million for new 10-year contracts. USDA estimates that up to 16 million acres of farmland could be eligible for the one-year extension. Because of a 19 million-acre cap set by law, only 3 million acres of other environmentally sensitive land could be set aside this year. "It would allow farmers who have highly productive land currently in the program the opportunity to collect a government check for one more year to not produce," said Rep. Joe Skeen, R-N.M. "This bill goes backward in the effort to protect our environment." In his letter to Smith, Glickman renewed his pledge to notify farmers seeking to enroll land in CRP by late May, which he said should be enough time to prepare the land for fall planting. Smith said his legislation is worded so that it is void if USDA-offers the new CRP contracts prior to its passage. In addition, Glickman outlined several options for farmers, including some continued CRP payments even if the land is prepared for cultivation and a promise that farmers who destroy ground cover before they are notified by USDA can still enroll the land if they are later accepted. The measure faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Agriculture Committee Chairman Dick Lugar, R-Ind., "is not very enthusiastic about it," said spokesman Andy Fisher. Fisher said Lugar is willing to consider the bill in his committee but would prefer that USDA take care of the problem. "This is not an unresolvable issue, if people want to work at it," Fisher said. T OKLAHOMA BOMBING TRIAL Ex-friend: McVeigh Dlanned Dombing Lori Fortier says accused; bomber detailed plans to i blow up federal building MICHAEL FLEEMAN Tlie Associated Press BbmHm M H iR- Hi JSr^9st DENVER — An angry Timothy! McVeigh divulged in October 1994 he; would blow up the Oklahoma City federal building because it was "an easy target," said a former friend] who choked up Tuesday as she lamented how she could have pre-i vented it. ; "He said that he and Terry (Nichols) would do it together, that Terry would mix the bomb," said Lori Fortier, one of the prosecution's star witnesses at the bombing trial. Fighting back tears, a red-faced Fortier said she knew she could have prevented the bombing that killed 168 people if she had spo-I ken up, but that she was "in denial" about whether McVeigh was capable; of it. "I wish I could have stopped it," she said in a wavering voice. "If I could do it all over again, I would have." Fortier returns today for what promises to be one of the sharpest cross-examinations of the trial. The defense hopes to discredit Fortier and her husband, Michael Fortier, who also will testify. Attorneys will likely focus on Lori Fortier's admission that in the weeks after the April 19,1995, bombing, she lied to the FBI, friends and relatives. "I didn't want (authorities) to implicate us. I was scared," she said. Testifying under immunity from prosecution, Fortier recalled a conversation in the living room of her Kingman, Ariz., mobile home in which McVeigh said he planned the bombing as revenge for the government's role in the deadly siege at Waco, Texas. She said that six months before the bombing, McVeigh specifically mentioned "the federal building" in Oklahoma City, though he didn't refer to it by its name, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. "He said it was an easy target and that it was a building that had some of the people who had been involved in the Waco raid," she said. McVeigh also specified the kind of bomb he was planning to use, Fortier said. "He was thinking about using racing fuel and ammonium nitrate," she said. "He was going to put ... like a fuse inside the barrels." Making a difference Retired Gen. Colin Powell gestures during Tuesday's closing ceremonies at the Presidents' Summit for America's Future In Philadelphia. See story, Page A6. Photo by The Associated Press

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