The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California on March 20, 1981 · 24
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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California · 24

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San Francisco, California
Issue Date:
Friday, March 20, 1981
Page:
24
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B4 S.F. EXAMINER Fri., Mar. 20, 1981 'We were not taking a risk,' he said. 'We were using a material that had no risk involved with it' General insists S.F. bacteria test was safe By Jim Wood The retired general, breast ablaze with ribbons, testified he had absolutely no doubts about the safety of live bacteria loosed on San Francisco during 1900 germ warfare tests. Major General William Creasy swore he believed it was safe then and he believes it is safe now. "We were not taking a risk," he insisted. "We were using a material that had no risk involved with it." The general was asked a complicated, lawyer question: If he had believed the threat of enemy biological attack was grave, would he have been willing to use a bacteria that risked human casualties? "The question didn't arise because we could make the test without any risk." he answered. The family of Edward Nevin, a hospital patient who died shortly after the experiment, is suing the government, saying he was a casualty of the secret tests. Gen. Creasy testified there was no question that the test had been authorized by military authorities before it was conducted. Edward Nevin III, attorney for the family, asked Creasy about a letter he had written a. chief chemical officer In 1952 ordering a halt to spraying live organisms in areas containing hospi tals. The letter followed news of the elder Nevins' death and a medical journal report that traces of serratia marcescens were found in his body and in tests of other patients. Gen. Creasy said that all the letter meant was "a question has been raised so what do we do? We stop the train until we see what's on the track." Creasy said that the matter was referred to a group of experts who were asked to determine what responsibility, if any, the biological warfare experimenters had in the San Francisco death. The experts also were asked for recommendations on the future use of the bacteria, serratia marcescens. Creasy said the experts recommended that the tests should be continued and that the risk was trivial "This I think gave me clearance to get on with the important work," Creasy testified. He said that looking back on the experiment, he felt sorry about Nevin s death but he believed it was not in any way related to the spray test "Would you authorize h today?" attorney Nevin asked. "Not necessarily," Creasy answered, in contrast with a former germ-war scientist. Dr. Charles Phillips, w ho said he would perform the same test with Joan Lynch graphic Major General William Creasy testified that bacteria loosed on San Francisco was harmless the same bacteria. Gen. Creasy said that before authorizing the test today he would want to check current scientific literature to see if any discoveries had been made concerning the bacteria. Dr. Phillips had testified that he was basing his judgment in part on just such subsequent studies. Under questioning, Gen. Creasy conceded that the committee w hich in effect cleared the bacteria in 1952 included scientists formerly involved in germ war research. But Dr. Oram Woolpert, who returned to the stand after Gen. Creasy's testimony, noted that the committee also included medical officers and a representative of the U.S. Public Health Servke. Dr. Woolpert. 83, w ho was technical director of the biological warfare program during the 19G0's, said that the particular strain of bacteria used in the experiment had been extensively tested. 'i . " in one experiment, he said. 160 million organisms had been inhaled for two and a half hours by test subjects without infection. The level he said was inconceivably higher than any that could have been inhaled during the San Francisco experiment. He said that before the San Francisco experiment, the materials were tested to make sure they were alive. But after they were released two miles offshore and twered the city with an invisible cloud, samples failed to pigment, or turn red. This led an earlier government expert to conclude that the bacteria had died. He discounted medical reports of persons who may have been affected by serratia marcescens as a few odd cases, scattered here and there. He said they must be balanced against "the huge volume of evidence" that the strain is safe. Dr. Woolpert, likening "the potential enemy" to a disease, said that the tests reduced the chance of an attack on the Bay Area. "It seems to me that the Bay Area populace should be pleased," he said. As for the secrecy in which the tests were conducted, he said that the experimenters had no Intention of performing research for "the potential enemy." He said that the biologk-al warefare researchers "weren't going to point out to the potential enemy our weaknesses and have him exploit them." Two found 4th trial on By Phil Bronstein Two men accused of murdering a prison guard have been found not guilty after their fourth trial on the same charge. A jury of nine men and three women announced their verdict in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Claude D. Perasso yesterday after deliberating for 14 hours. Testimony in the trial had lasted six days. Eugene Allen and Ernest Graham were charged in the 1973 stabbing death of white guard Jerry Sanders at Deuel Vocational Institute near Tracy. The prosecution had suggested that the two were members of the prison-based Black " Guerrilla Family and had killed the guard as part of some initiation or rite involved with the group. The defense, since the first trial in 1974, has alleged that the continued prosecution of the two men has been rac ially motivated. Graham and Allen first faced a jury seven yean ago in San Joaquin Superior Court but the jury split, reportedly 11-1 for conviction. The holdout was said to be the lone black on the jury who reportedly said she could not have returned to her community if she had voted for a conviction. Since a felony case requires a unanimous jury sentence, a new trial was ordered. Defense lawyers won a change of venue motion and the second trial was held in San Francisco in March 1976. This time, Graham and Allen were convicted and, under state law, sentenced to death. But the state Supreme Court overturned the decision in 1979 because the prosecutor had excluded blacks from the jury, apparently as a result of the previous mistrial. Jurors in a third trial split 66 last May and preparations were made for the fourth time to bring Graham and Allen into court. Yesterday's innocent verdict was unanimous and will likely end action in the case. Graham was discharged after the verdicts were read he had finished serving a not guilty in guard killing sentence for armed robbery and Allen was returned to San (Juentin to serve out a life sentence he received for the killing of a fellow inmate when Allen was at the California Youth Authority. After Wishing their deliberations and announcing their verdict jurors indicated there were several reasons that caused them to find the two men innocent. Two of the prosecution witneses were inmates the jury had trouble believing. Guards who also testified seemed to present inconsistent stories, several jurors said. Although the fact that this was the fourth trial was not a point of evidence, several jurors indicated that it did give them cause for doubt about the prosecution's case. There were no blacks on this last jury. Several blacks were questioned as perspective jurors and released, although there was no blanket exclusion as there was in the second trial. One black prospective juror reportedly told the prosec utor. Assistant San Joaquin District Attorney John Phillips, that the defense should want blacks on the jury but that the prosecution shouldn't The political atmosphere surrounding the case has been highly charged and there was heavy security outside the courtroom during this latest trial Several civil rights groups have filed friend of the court briefs on behalf of Graham and Allen. Prosecutor Phillips has defended the multiple trials. This was a cold-blooded, vkkws, premeditated murder and they're not going to get away with it," he said after the third trial. Prosecution w itnesses in the case testified that Graham claimed to be a general in the Black Guerrilla Family and that he admitted killing Deuel guard Jerry Sanders to rejuvenate the black movement in prison. TIiislVeeliEnd AtPcloAltoDatsuo. 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