7/23/09 – Jurors Ask 2 Questions in Alamo Sex-Crime Case

New York Times
July 23, 2009

Jurors Ask 2 Questions in Pastor Sex-Crime Case

Jurors took a break from deliberations at the sex-crimes trial of evangelist Tony Alamo on Thursday so they could pose two questions to the federal judge presiding over the case.

U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes consulted with prosecutors and defense lawyers, then sent a note back to the panel, which had begun its discussions earlier Thursday. The court said it wouldn’t disclose the questions or the judge’s answers until the end of the trial.

Alamo, 74, could spend the rest of his life in jail if convicted on charges he took young girls across state lines for sex.

In closing arguments Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner described Alamo as a manipulator who dictated everything from what his followers believed to what they could eat. At one point, she turned to stare directly at him.

”Your crimes have been exposed in this courtroom,” Jenner said. Alamo sneered and waved her away.

Alamo fell asleep several times during Jenner’s closing argument. At one point, his mouth hung wide open as his head rolled back in his chair. A member of his legal team woke him by throwing a pen onto the defense table. When he was awake, Alamo muttered ”bull—-” at times during Jenner’s remarks.

Defense lawyer Phillip Kuhn told jurors not to be swayed by testimony unrelated to the indictment — that Alamo may have had multiple wives, or that he may have set up businesses to evade taxes. He said prosecutors deliberately strayed from the specific charges.

”Was it to give Tony a fair trial or was it to turn the jury into a moral mob?” Kuhn asked.

Alamo is accused of taking five underage girls across state lines for sex between 1994 and 2005 after ”marrying” them. Defense lawyers say prosecutors targeted him because the government is anti-Christian. Alamo has also said the Vatican is behind his troubles.

Defense attorneys largely stayed away from challenging the accusers’ testimony about sex with the evangelist. They rested their case Wednesday after persuading the flamboyant minister not to testify. Though he had told reporters he would take the stand, Alamo said Wednesday afternoon he chose not to testify in an ”unjust court.”

Alamo is charged with violating the Mann Act, a nearly century-old morality law. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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