7/21/09 – Prosecutors rest case after playing recorded conversations

San Francisco Chronicle
July 21, 2009
By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press Writer

Alamo: ‘I’m going to testify’ in sex crimes trial

Evangelist Tony Alamo walked into court Tuesday and told reporters he planned to take the stand in his sex-crime trial, even though his lawyers have advised against it.

“I’m going to testify. I’ve already won. They’ve got nothing,” the 74-year-old Alamo said.

Prosecutors wrapped up their case Tuesday after playing recordings of phone conversations Alamo had from jail. In one, Alamo tells a girl she has to clean up a mess she made or leave his compound. In another, women and girls giggle as he discusses how the charges against him might differ had his alleged crimes occurred in Texas or Arkansas.

The defense team expects to call up to 10 witnesses, and their biggest liability might be their client.

Defense attorneys face a skeptical jury and the likelihood that Alamo will choose to testify even though they’ve advised him not to. 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, Kuhn said.

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

In court Monday, the evangelist blurted out a reference to the raid on the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas. The 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), Tony Alamo - In His Own Words

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