Newton Is Guilty Of Manslaughter
Panthers' Leader Faces 2 to 15 Years in Slaying of Oakland Policeman
WALLACE TURNER / New York Times 9sep1968
[More on the Black Panther Party]
Huey P. Newton
OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 8—Huey P. Newton, the 26-year-old Black Panther leader, was convicted tonight of voluntary manslaughter in the killing of an Oakland policeman, John Frey.
Newton had been charged with murder.
He was acquitted of assault on Patrolman Herbert Heanes, who survived three bullet wounds in his body. A kidnap-ping charge was dropped when a witness refused to testify and said he could not remember ,events he had related to a grand jury.
The verdict came after, four days of jury deliberation in the eight-week trial. Judge Monroe Friedman of Superior Court will pass sentence on Friday, Sept. 27, after a report from the Alameda County probation department.
The. verdict was seen here as a victory for the defense.
Newton faces a sentence of from 2 to 15 years. Had he been convicted of first-degree 'murder, he could have been 'sentenced to death. A conviction of second-degree murder could have meant 5 years to life in prison.
The trial opened July 15 and concerned events that occurred about 5 A.M. Oct. 28, 1967, when Mr. Frey stopped Newton on a traffic check on a dilapidated, dirty street in the heart of the Negro slum in West Oakland.
Newton was defended by Charles Garry, 59, a white lawyer from San Francisco. Lowell Jensen. 40, was the prosecutor.
A few minutes after the verdict Mr. Garry said. "I am prepared to lake it to the highest court in the land. We are tremendously disappointed The verdict makes no sense."
Newton was born in New Orleans, but grew up in the slums of Oakland. His father is a city street maintenance employee. He is the youngest of seven children. An articulate young man, he attended junior college here for two years and a San Francisco law school for eight months.
The murder charge made Newton and the Black Panther party nationally famous while he was in jail awaiting trial.
Fueled by the "Free Huey" campaign, the Black Panther organization has rocketed to national prominence far beyond its numerical strength or actual influence in the affairs of Negro militancy.
Newton and Bobby Seale, an-other Oakland Negro, founded the Black Panthers about Oct 10, 1966, in Oakland. For months it was just another of several militant organizations operating in the slums of this city across the bay from San Francisco.
In May, 1967, the Panthers got national publicity by taking their guns into the state legislative chambers in Sacramento
In the early months of 1968, the Panthers, behind Eldridge Cleaver, former convict and successful author who has filled the leadership hole left when Newton was jailed, moved into the new Peace and Freedom party, a grouping of radical splinter groups.
The Panthers told the radicals that the price of Panther support in the Negro slums would he nomination of Newton as the Peace and Freedom, candidate for the Oakland seat in Congress. It was done. Newton was officially notified of his nomination during his trial.
This background figured in the trial. Mr. Garry, who headed Newton's defense, was referring to the Black Panther party when he told the jury:
"This provides the background and reason why we are here in court today and the reason why Huey Newton is charged with the atrocious crime of murdering a policeman."
Even before the jury was selected, Newton's defense at-tacked .racial bigotry in Oak-land, charging that the jury selection from registered voter lists was unfair and racially biased.
Registration in County
About 82 percent of Alameda County's Adult citizens are registered, the court was told by defense witnesses in support of pretrial motions to dismiss the jury panel, while Negro registrations run as low as 32.5 per cent of the potential.
The county is about 12.4 per cent Negro, witnesses land.
During the trial, the most hitter racial arguments were directed toward the Oakland Police Department, repeatedly described as racist and as persecuting the Black Panthers
Patrolman Free was described by many defense witnesses as a racist who took pleasure in harassing Negros who lived in his beat area in the West Oakland Negro slum.
This theme was used ever in the evidence concerned with Newton's treatment when he went to a hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound through his abdomen from the gunfight.
A hospital receptionist, called by the state to fill id its evidence chain, was cross-examined by Mr. Garry. She had taken 15 minutes or more to summon a doctor after quarreling with Newton.
Delay Is Explained
"It was a very small opening," Mrs Corrine Leonard said tinder pressure from the defense lawyer to explain why she delayed. "As large as my finger. Not impressive at all."
Newton had called her "a white bitch."
The important evidence appeared to revolve around the testimony of three prosecution and two defense witnesses.
The important defense witnesses were Newton, who was on for most of two days, and Gene McKinney, who testified only a few minutes and has been in jail since for contempt when he refused to answer questions.
Surprise Defense Witness
McKinney came as a surprise defense witness. He said he was in the car with Newton when Patrolman Frey stopped it. Then he was asked by Mr. Garry if he shot either officer. McKinney refused to answer on the ground that to do so might incriminate him.
Judge Friedman held that he had waived his privilege by saying that he was there, and had to answer further or go to jail. McKinney went to jail.
But he had left the hint that he might have shot the two policemen
Newton's testimony about the shooting began with a blanket denial that he shot anyone, He said Patrolman Frey recognized him when the car was stopped after turning into a darkened Oakland street.
After Patrolman Heanes joined them, Mr. Frey ordered Newton out of the car and marched him to the rear toward Mr. Heanes's car, the last in the line of three vehicles. The policemen and the Negro militant talked Then, said Newton.
"He hooked me in the face with his left and I was dazed and went down to one knee. I saw him draw his service revolver and felt something like boiling hot soup spilled on my stomach. There were shots all around and the world was spinning. I don't know what happened."
it was brought out that Newton had been in difficulty with the Richmond. Calif , police in June, 1967, and drew a 60 day sentence: that he had a scuffle with a Berkeley policeman, who said Newton tried to take his gun, and that he stabbed a man with a butcher knife and drew a three-year probationary sentence.
The three major witnesses for the prosecution were Patrolman Heanes, Henry Grier, a bus driver, and John Davis, an Oakland Police Department criminologist.
Mr. Heanes said he never saw a gun in Newton's hand, but that he saw the Negro struggle with Mr. Frey just be-fore a bullet struck his own arm. Mr. Heanes said that in one of his momentary flashes of recollection he could recall trying to shoot Newton in the stomach with the gun held in his unwounded left hand.
Mr. Grier, whose testimony sometimes conflicted in detail with statements he gave earlier to the police, said he saw New-ton and Mr. Frey walking along 'the street as his bus lights illuminated the 5 A.M. street scene.
Mr. Grier said he saw Newton reach inside his coat or shirt and pull out a gun, whirl and struggle with Mr. Frey. A shot was fired, he said, and Mr. Heanes fell to the street. Then, said Mr. Grier, he saw Newton fire a gun into Mr Frey's body.
Mr. Davis, the criminologist, testified that powder differences in the cartridges used by the two policemen enabled him to say that Mr. Frey's own gun was the weapon that fired bullets that killed him.
He said the Frey weapon was loaded with ball powder cartridges, and the Heanes gun with flake powder. Ball powder left burns on Mr. Frey's clothing. A bullet recovered from his hip, as well as one from Mr. Heanes's knee was fired with ball powder.
Gun Not Recovered
Mr. Frey's gun was not re-covered after the shooting The state could not .produce a 9-mm pistol it argued Newton had carried and used to wound the two policemen in his first shots.
Throughout the trial, Mr. Garry objected to the heavy security precautions. Witnesses, spectators and reporters were searched each time they entered the courtroom. Guards rode the single elevator that stopped At the seventh floor where the courtroom is situated More guards stood outside the doors, and others were inside the courtroom, some in uniform.
Entrance to the limited to one door. Guards with sidearms patrolled the corridors. and guarded the first-floor elevator doors Newton was delivered to the courtroom by a back stairway and wore handcuffs that were removed at the courtroom door.
After evidence was completed in the trial, greater security precautions were installed. Protective wire screening was placed on courthouse windows, and new and more restrictive rules placed on admittance to the building.
pp.1 & 55