8/1/09 – TG: Tony Alamo defense wants new trial. Jurors heard ‘prejudicial testimony’

Texarkana Gazette
August 1, 2009
By: Lynn LaRowe

Alamo defense wants new trial

Tony Alamo’s defense team asked for a new trial Friday, one week after the 74-year-old was convicted of bringing young girls across state lines for sex.

The motion asserts Alamo is entitled to another shot at justice because the jury heard evidence of a variety of alleged misdeeds unrelated to the charges for which he was tried, among other reasons.

Defense attorney Jeff Harrelson penned the motion that said Alamo didn’t get a fair trial because the jury heard “prejudicial” testimony.

“This included evidence and allegations of defendant’s relationship with adult women, his control over the ministry, his tax evasion conviction, the insinuation of hiding assets suggesting some sort of fraud, tax evasion, wage and hour violations, assault and battery, corporal punishment and others,” the motion said.

The motion also proposes that the court erred when it didn’t make prosecutors produce records from a counseling center where three of the Jane Does named in Alamo’s indictment went at government expense.

Other issues listed in the motion include U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes’ ruling that the names of two informants would remain a secret from the defense, his denial of a defense motion to suppress evidence collected during the raid of the Fouke, Ark., compound Sept. 20, 2008 and Barnes’ admission of snippets of recorded jailhouse conversations in which Alamo engaged.

Each of the 10 counts is addressed individually in the motion and avers the evidence supporting a conviction for each was “legally and factually insufficient.”

The motion asks Barnes to agree he should have granted a mistrial that was requested during the trial because of a statement made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner during her closing remarks. Prosecutors cannot negatively refer to a defendant’s choice not to testify. The motion alleges Jenner made such a comment.

Harrelson also points to two witnesses who asserted the 5th Amendment right not to incriminate themselves while on the stand. The motion said Barnes should have removed the jury before the witnesses invoked the 5th and that allowing jurors to see those events may have discredited the witnesses’ testimonies. Both were mothers of Jane Does named in Alamo’s 10-count indictment, both remain loyal to Alamo and both have been in hiding with minor children.

The motion further includes a complaint that notes made by FBI and Arkansas State Police investigators should have been given to the defense.

A woman who was not named in the indictment, but who testified she was wed to Alamo at 17, shouldn’t have been allowed to tell her story to the jury, the motion said.

Barnes has the option of ruling on the motion with or without a hearing. The government hasn’t yet responded.

Alamo, whose real name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman, will be scheduled for sentencing in five to seven weeks. He faces up to 30 years on three counts, up to 15 on three others and up to 10 years on four.

If Barnes sentences Alamo to serve the maximum sentences consecutively, the self-proclaimed “prophet” could receive 175 years.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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