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Tennessee: White Supremacists to Get Separate Trials in February on Obama Plot

Separate trials sought in alleged Obama plot
— Jackson Sun reports on September 12, 2009
— “The attorney prosecuting the two men accused of plotting to kill more than 100 black people, including President Barack Obama, told a judge Friday that he plans to file a motion requesting separate trials for the two.”
— “Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark., appeared briefly before Judge J. Daniel Breen in U.S. District Court in Jackson for a report hearing.”
— “The two have been held without bond since October, when they were arrested and charged with planning a multi-state robbery and killing spree, ending in an attempt to kill then-presidential candidate Obama. Federal investigators have described the two as white supremacist skinheads.”
— “U.S. Attorney Lawrence Laurenzi told Breen that the statements Cowart and Schlesselman gave agents after they were arrested implicate each other, which makes it difficult to try the two in the same trial.”
— “Breen gave Laurenzi until Oct. 31 to file the motion.”
— “The judge also set a tentative trial date of Feb. 22 for the case. If the judge rules that two trials are necessary, the second trial probably would be held the following week.”
— “Cowart’s lawyer, Joe Byrd Jr., also asked for additional time to file a supplement to a motion he filed in November. That motion argues Cowart and Schlesselman were indicted by a federal grand jury with too few white people and says the charges against them should be thrown out.”
— “Doris Randle-Holt, Schlesselman’s lawyer, has filed a similar motion.”
— “Breen set an Oct. 31 deadline for Byrd to file any supplements.”
— “Byrd said Friday he has received the court’s population data and the master list of citizens from which the jury was selected, but the additional information has raised more questions.”
— “‘We are looking to see if the method by which juries are selected in the Western District meets constitutional guidelines and represent a fair cross section of the population,’ Byrd said.”
— “Grand jury proceedings are secret, but Byrd has said he has evidence there were two white members in the 23-member jury.”
— “Federal prosecutors have called that statement a ‘reckless disregard for the truth’ and say there were nine white members on the jury. They have said the defendants are not entitled to a hearing on the grand jury issue.”
— “Breen ruled in February that the defense can question procedures for selecting jurors but can’t challenge the resulting racial makeup of the actual jury.”
— “Cowart and Schlesselman are scheduled to appear for another report hearing at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 14.”

Commercial Appeal/AP report:
— 2 trials for plot against Obama
— “A Tennessee prosecutor says he will request separate trials for two men charged with plotting to kill President Barack Obama and dozens of other black people.”
— “The Jackson Sun reported that U.S. Atty. Lawrence Laurenzi said during a federal court hearing Friday that statements made by Daniel Cowart of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman of Helena-West Helena, Ark., implicate each other, making it hard to try them in the same trial.”
— “Authorities describe the two as white supremacist skinheads who hatched a plot for a cross-country robbery and killing spree that was to culminate with an attack on Obama, then the Democratic candidate for president.”
— “They were arrested in October and have been held without bond. U.S. District Court Judge J. Daniel Breen said that if approved, the first of the two trials would start on Feb. 22.”