Prosecutor Sums Up, Calls Bingham as Guilty as the Triggerman
Former fugitive lawyer Stephen Bingham is as guilty of the 1971 deaths of two San Quentin prison guards as if he had pulled the trigger on the fatal shots himself, a prosecutor told jurors Monday.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Terrance Boren told the Marin County Superior Court jury that the radical lawyer conspired to aid black prison radical George Jackson’s attempted escape, which ended in six deaths, including Jackson’s. Under California law, he said, that makes Bingham responsible.
Bingham, 44, is accused of two counts of murder and one charge of conspiracy for allegedly slipping a pistol to Jackson during an Aug. 21, 1971, visit. Boren says Jackson hid the pistol under an Afro wig and then used it to start an escape attempt that left three guards and three inmates dead.
Bingham disappeared on the day of the violence and remained at large until he surrendered in San Francisco in 1984. He testified earlier this month that he spent most his time in Paris under an assumed identity.
“The single issue in this case is whether the defendant passed the gun, the clips of ammunition and the wig to George Jackson during the visit,” Boren said. “If you find that he did not, then he is not guilty of anything.”
Boren said, however, that if the jurors have been convinced that Bingham did provide the gun, “then I submit to you that he’s guilty of all three charges.”
Boren, an assistant district attorney, spent much of the day recounting testimony and evidence about the events that August day nearly 15 years ago. He is expected to finish his closing argument today, after which defense attorneys get their turn.
Boren began his argument by discussing the testimony of his star witness, Kenneth McCray, a prison guard who survived the cellblock violence. McCray testified that he feigned death after being wounded by knife-wielding inmates while three other guards were slain in the same cell.
Two of them, Officer Frank DeLeon and Sgt. Jere Graham, died of gunshot wounds that Boren says were fired by the gun that Bingham provided.