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Two Convicted: Chino Escape Case
Doug and Andrea Burt, the first two defendants in the Chino Escape Case, have been declared guilty by a San Bernardino jury. In the face of overwhelming evidence which would clear the Burts, District Attorney Canty still succeeded in using racist appeals, destruction of evidence and unrelated 'facts' to obtain a guilty verdict on charges of murder, assault and rescue.
The Chino Escape Case began when a Chino inmate, Ronald Beaty, escaped from a state car in an ambush on Oct. 6, 1972. While Beaty escaped, one guard was killed and another wounded. Though before the escape he had been serving a life sentence with no chance of parole, after he was recaptured Beaty was offered parole in 7 years if he would testify against Andrea Burt (a member of the Venceremos organization), Doug Burt, Jean Hobson, and Bob Seabock; all are active in the prison movement.
The trial itself was conducted in an atmosphere of repression. The average age of jury members was 58 and the jury was all-white. All poor, young, working class and Third World people were dismissed immediately by the D.A. The trial was held in an intimidating class-encased courtroom, filled with metal detectors and security officers.
The evidence presented in the case was totally ignored by the jury and judge. There were four eyewitnesses to the escape. The first was Ron Beaty himself, and he testified that Doug, Andrea, Jean and Bob were all involved with him. However, he also testified that he lied to the grand jury and the FBI about crucial events in the case and his testimony was continually impeached. Beaty had escaped from Chino once before, and his former escape partner testified that Beaty would do anything to save his own skin and that nothing he said should be believed.
The second eyewitness, Mrs. Veldhuiser, said that she had an obstructed view from about 200 ft. and she thought she saw a profile resembling Doug's, but that she wasn't sure because it happened so fast. The surviving guard, who had known Doug Burt when he was in Chino, testified that he did not recognize any of the four defendants as having participated in the incident. Attempts at hypnotic recall by the prosecution failed to change this guard's mind.
The best eyewitness, Mr. Hallgarten, who watched the whole event form about 150 ft. with an unobstructed view, testified that he had never before in his life seen Doug and Andrea Burt. The prosecution had intended to use Hallgarten as a prosecution witness because he was so close to the scene, but failed to call him when his real story was revealed.
Add to this eyewitness testimony, the jury was told that none of the finger prints found in the escape cars belonged to any of the defendants, and none of the hairs found in the cars belong to them. The previous owners of the escape cars established no link to the defendants. Also, three witnesses testified that Dough and Andrea were in Hayward, Cal. on the day of the escape, yet this prejudiced jury found the defendants guilty in the face of such blatant evidence proving their innocence.
Defense attorney Charles Garry has termed the trial a 'railroad' and announced his intentions to appeal the conviction. In the meantime, Jean Hobson and Bob Seabock face trial on the same charges. Their trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 17th in San Bernardino. If you wish to contribute money or want more information, contact: Chino Defense Committee, 366 9th St., San Bernardino, California.