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White supremacist trial starts

By
DAVE HASKELL

BOSTON, July 15 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors said Monday that a self-described white supremacist and his girlfriend planned to commit acts of domestic terrorism to fulfill their dream of creating an all-white society.

The government said Leo V. Felton, 31, and Erica Chase, 22, organized a small cell of racists and conspired to blow up sites associated with Jews and blacks in order to incite a racial holy war.

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Felton and Chase are on trial in U.S. District Court in Boston, with Judge Nancy Gertner presiding. Opening statements were presented Monday.

Describing the case as one of attempting domestic terrorism, Assistant U.S. Attorney S. Theodore Merritt said the pair conspired to make their dream of an all-white society a reality.

Merritt said a search of their apartment in Boston's North End after their arrest last year on counterfeiting charges turned up bomb-making materials and recipes. The prosecutor said Felton had purchased a 50-pound bag of ammonium nitrate, the same material Timothy McVeigh used in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Felton's court-appointed attorney, Lenore Glaser, told the jury, however, there "was no bomb," and that her client should not be convicted for exercising his constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of association.

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Timothy Watkins, representing Chase, said she was just a pawn who did as Felton wanted.

Felton and Chase were indicted last year on charges of plotting to make a destructive explosive device, conspiracy, counterfeiting and obstruction of justice.

Felton, in addition, was also charged with receiving explosives, bank robbery and felony possession of a firearm.

The selection of a 12-member jury with four alternates was completed Friday. There are no blacks on the panel.

Felton and Chase were arrested in April 2001 for allegedly attempting to pass counterfeit money at a doughnut shop in East Boston.

A subsequent search of their apartment in Boston's North End turned up bomb-making literature and material linking him to an Aryan brotherhood group, the White Order of Thule, prosecutors said.

The government alleged that as a member of the group, Felton advocated violence as a way to advance a white power agenda to rid the United States of a multiracial society and its perceived Jewish influence.

While no specific targets were named in the indictments, prosecutors said materials found in the apartment suggested possible targets included the Holocaust Memorial in Boston, the Leonard Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge -- named after the late Jewish leader of the local Anti-Defamation League -- and the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

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Felton, a 6-foot-7-inch Maryland native who has the words SKIN and HEAD tattooed on the sides of his skull, has described himself as an "unrepentant enemy of the multicultural myth."

He allegedly tried to kill himself in prison after the indictment last year revealed he was biracial. His father was an African-American and his mother white.

In a subsequent letter to the Boston Herald, Felton complained that the disclosure of his racial origin alienated him from his Aryan friends, "the only community I've known since I was 17."

One of those was Thomas "Hammer" Struss, who served time in a New Jersey prison with Felton and was allegedly a member of Felton's five-person "cell." Struss, arrested in New Jersey for trying to steal a car, reportedly cut a deal with prosecutors and agreed to testify against Felton after learning he was bi-racial.

Also expected to testify against Felton was his estranged wife, Lisa Meetre, who married him in while he was in prison in 1993.

It was after Felton's extramarital relationship with Chase was revealed by the original June 2001 indictment that Meetre agreed to testify against him. Originally charged with destroying evidence for Felton, Meetre reportedly was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony.

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In announcing additional charges against Felton and Chase on Sept. 19, U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan likened the alleged bomb plot to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

"Last week's acts of terrorism on the United States show how deadly hatred can be," Sullivan said at the time. "Fortunately in this case, the defendants were apprehended before their plan to attack sites associated with African-Americans and Jewish communities ... could be carried out."

Glaser has argued that the government was putting her client on trial for his white supremacist ideas rather than for any actual crimes. She said investigators found no evidence of an actual bomb.

If convicted, Chase faces up to 35 years in prison. Felton could get life.

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