Boy in McMartin Trial Sticks to Account of Pony's Slaughter

Times Staff Writer

A 10-year-old witness in the McMartin Pre-School molestation case calmly recounted Tuesday--for the third time since he took the stand a week ago--the alleged slaughter of a pony as he and other youngsters were forced to watch.

On his fourth full day of cross-examination, the boy said that, during a field trip to a nearby unidentified farm, defendant Raymond Buckey, 26, cut up a pony with a 2-foot-long knife he wielded like an ax.

"He kept chopping it," the child told attorney Bradley Brunon, who represents school founder Virginia McMartin, 77.

"Eventually to pieces, right?" Brunon asked.

"Yes," the boy replied.

Brunon pressed for details.

Asked how many times Buckey had hit the horse after it was down, the youngster replied, "I wasn't counting."

Asked whether Buckey was blood-spattered after the alleged slaughter, he answered, "I don't know, I wasn't watching Ray. I was watching the horse."

The boy had first described the grisly incident during direct examination by Deputy Dist. Atty. Christine Johnston, one of three prosecutors in the case, which involves 41 children and 208 counts of molestation and conspiracy involving the Manhattan Beach school dating to 1978.

He said defendant Ray Buckey warned that the parents of any child who told about sexual abuse from McMartin teachers would share the pony's fate.

The child also answered questions about the incident during three days of cross-examination by attorney William Powell Jr., who represents former teacher Mary Ann Jackson, 57.

Prosecutors have objected to the scores of detailed questions by defense attorneys, calling the queries irrelevant, repetitive and argumentative.

Defense attorneys contend, however, that such questions are necessary to show that the child either is making up the tale or has a hazy memory, and they point out that the youngster frequently answers "I don't remember" or "I don't know."

"If he really saw this horrible event, he would remember the details of it," Brunon told the judge during one of many arguments Tuesday over the questions.

The details are also necessary, argued attorney Dean Gits, who represents defendant Peggy McMartin Buckey, 58, because "either the farm doesn't exist and we're entitled to nail the witness down and show no such farm exists within 100 miles of the school, or it does exist and the people who live on it are going to say it's (the child's story) preposterous."

Lawyer Eliseo Gauna, who represents defendant Babette Spitler, 36, a former McMartin teacher, said, "The district attorney has dug up acres of ground in search of the remains of a dead pony, horse, chicken or whatever," and questioned "a San Bernardino gentleman who had horse meat in his refrigerator."

Defense attorneys also say that they hope to find discrepancies between the present witness' description of the farm and slaughter and that of future witnesses.

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