7/21/09 – Defense unsure if Alamo will testify

The Washington Post
July 21, 2009
By JON GAMBRELL, The Associated Press

Defense unsure if evangelist Alamo will testify


As lawyers begin to defend evangelist Tony Alamo against sex-crime charges, their biggest liability might be their client.

Prosecutors will likely rest their case against the 74-year-old Alamo on Tuesday, a day after the evangelist blurted out a reference to the raid on the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas, in a courtoom outburst. Prosecutors plan to play for jurors recordings of jailhouse telephone calls the preacher made since his arrest on charges that he took underage girls across state lines for sex.

Alamo’s defense team will face a skeptical jury and the chance Alamo will choose to take the stand even though they’ve advised him not to testify. Defense lawyer Phillip Kuhn said Alamo’s team planned to call as many as 10 witnesses. Whether that will include Alamo remains to be seen.

“If he gets on the witness stand, it will be against my advice,” Kuhn told reporters.

On Monday, the evangelist’s outburst came as defense lawyers argued whether an FBI agent could say he worried about the safety of Alamo’s followers after a Sept. 20 raid on Alamo’s Arkansas compound.

“After Waco, they are looking for safety too, from the FBI,” Alamo interjected from the defense table, referencing the Branch Davidian religious compound in Texas that federal agents stormed in 1993. Leader David Koresh and dozens of followers died as the complex burned.

Kuhn said after the hearing that U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes heard the comment.

“The judge asked me to ask him to cool it,” Kuhn said.

But as Alamo left the courthouse in prison scrubs, he remained visibly upset.

“The FBI likes to burn Christians,” Alamo told reporters. “I should be putting them on trial, not them on me. They’re guilty.”

Alamo’s followers set up a Twitter account in his name over the weekend and referenced a statement on his Web site deriding the FBI as “demonic.”

Jurors heard last week from the five former followers who say Alamo abused them as girls. In graphic testimony, they said that they traveled to California, Tennessee and West Virginia for sex with their pastor or responded to his call and returned to Arkansas from out of state and had sex with him.

Each count in the indictment is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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