3 of the SF 8 still face S.F. cop-killing charges
- Subj: [Freethe SF8] 3 Still Face Murder Charges
Date: 2/29/2008 8:25:05 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: cdhrsupport@... (SF-8 case)
3 still face S.F. cop-killing chargesJaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, February 29, 2008
A San Francisco judge refused to dismiss murder conspiracy charges Thursday against three alleged former militants accused of orchestrating a war against San Francisco police officers nearly 40 years ago.
State prosecutors were forced to drop murder conspiracy charges earlier this year against five of the eight original defendants in the case.
The eight were all accused of conspiring to kill officers from 1968 to 1973 as members of the militant Black Liberation Army.
Their cases were dropped after defense attorneys discovered that the statute of limitations at the time for murder conspiracy was three years.
One defendant, who had faced only the conspiracy charge, no longer faces prosecution; four others still are charged with a separate count of murder for the 1971 slaying of San Francisco police Sgt. John Young.
The state refused to dismiss conspiracy charges against the remaining three original defendants, citing an exception to the statute of limitations for defendants who had left California.
Two of the men, Anthony Bottom and Herman Bell, were imprisoned in New York in the 1970s for the murders of two police officers there. A third, Francisco Torres, moved to New York in the '70s, prosecutors said.
Lawyers for Bell and Bottom argued to Judge Philip Moscone of San Francisco Superior Court that their clients were involuntarily out of the state because they were in prison, so the statute of limitations should apply.
Torres' lawyer argued that the statute of limitations barred prosecution of his client altogether.
The prosecution countered that the law did not carve out any exception for imprisoned suspects, and Moscone ruled Thursday that the defense lawyers' argument had no merit.
Moscone left open the possibility that the defense could argue that some of the defendants had been in the state - and therefore subject to the statute of limitations - for three years before the law was changed in 1985 to eliminate the time limit for prosecuting murder conspiracies.
Stuart Hanlon, attorney for Bell, told Moscone he would appeal the ruling.
E-mail Jaxon Van Derbeken at jvanderbeken@....
This article appeared on page B - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle