5/09/09 – TG: New trial date set for Alamo

Texarkana Gazette
May 9, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

New trial date set for Alamo

Tony Alamo has a new trial date. Jury selection will begin July 13 for the evangelist who is accused of bringing young girls across state lines for sex.

U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes granted Tony Alamo’s defense team’s request for a new trial date during an in-chambers meeting Friday morning.

“This is going to be a very difficult trial,” California attorney Danny Davis said outside the federal courthouse in Texarkana. “I hope we will have cast a different light on this story by the time we’re done.”

Davis, Alamo’s lead defense attorney, and lawyers Don Ervin of Houston and Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana met with Barnes and prosecutors Kyra Jenner, Candace Taylor and Clay Fowlkes from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Alamo’s trial was less than two weeks away when Davis filed a motion for a continuance earlier this week asking for a four-month postponement. The motion cited a lack of investigation by Alamo’s prior attorney, a desire for more time to prepare and Davis’ need for immediate knee surgery as grounds for the delay.

“The judge was kind enough to give us a new date,” Davis said. “He gave us nine weeks.”

In an order formally entered after the meeting, Barnes wrote, “…the ends of justice served by the granting of the continuance outweighs the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.”

Davis said he will now devote all of his time to preparing Alamo’s defense.

“We’re going to be focusing on a productive investigation versus looking for needles in a haystack,” Davis said. “We’re looking at what I like to call, a pile of stuff.”

In the motion for continuance, Davis lamented not knowing the identities of some witnesses, including those of the five alleged victims named in Alamo’s 10-count federal indictment.

“There are people I don’t know, people I can’t find,” Davis said.

Alamo, whose real name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, was jailed less than a week after a Sept. 20 raid on ministry property in Fouke, Ark. His pleas for bond have been denied.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant ruled Alamo presents a flight risk and a continued threat to the community at the close of a detention hearing in November.

Davis said he expects the trial to last two weeks.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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