2 Supremacists Guilty in Death of Jewish Radio Host
A federal jury convicted two members of the neo-Nazi group The Order and acquitted two others Tuesday of civil rights violations in the 1984 shooting death of Jewish radio talk show host Alan Berg.
The jury found that David Lane and Bruce Pierce killed Berg, an outspoken and sometimes abrasive radio personality, because he was Jewish and employed as a talk show host. There was no applicable murder statute under federal law.
Lane and Pierce could receive up to life in prison, becoming eligible for parole after 10 years. Richard Scutari and Jean Craig were acquitted. All four already are in prison for racketeering convictions in December, 1985, in Seattle.
“I’m 50% happy,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Barry Kowalski said after the verdict, which came after more than two weeks of testimony from nearly 100 witnesses.
The case against the four was based on circumstantial evidence, provided mainly by former members of The Order who agreed to testify in exchange for reduced sentences.
Attorneys for Pierce and Lane said they probably would appeal.
Berg, 50, was gunned down on June 18, 1984, in the driveway of his Denver town house, hit by 13 bullets from a .45-caliber machine pistol equipped with a silencer.
‘Because He Was a Jew’
“They killed him because of his job and they did it because he was a Jew,” Thomas O’Rourke, an assistant U.S. attorney, had said in closing arguments.
Moments after the verdict, Lane held up a legal pad on which was scrawled: “Remember Whidbey Island,” a reference to a December, 1984, shoot-out with federal agents in Washington state that resulted in the death of Robert Mathews, founder of The Order.
Mathews was believed to have been with the group when Berg was killed.
O’Rourke said The Order, a neo-Nazi, white supremacist group, “had a negative view of the world, that Jews were imposters and were not only their enemies, but God’s enemies.”
The prosecutor said the defendants were proud of the slaying and “couldn’t resist talking about what they had done.”
Defense lawyers said that, although the four may have held unpopular, even repulsive views, they did not kill Berg and the government had insufficient evidence to prove it.