New evidence linking white supremacist Tom Metzger to the beating death of a black man in Portland, Ore., was released Wednesday with an affidavit from a former skinhead, who said he took a load of baseball bats to Portland and helped organize white gangs to "carry out Tom and John Metzgers' goals of harming blacks and Jews."
The affidavit was filed by attorneys for a civil rights organization that is suing Metzger, a Fallbrook television repairman and national leader of the White Aryan Resistance, in an attempt to make him accountable for the November, 1988, murder.
Along with the affidavit, dozens of other pages of court records and deposition testimony as well as transcripts of recorded messages that Metzger sends out on his telephone hot lines, much of it espousing white superiority.
Lawyers for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which is representing the family of the slain man in the state courts in Portland, are asking that all of the financial assets belonging to Metzger and his son, John, be turned over to the victim's family in compensation for the man's being pummeled to death by a bat-wielding skinhead.
In essence, they hope a monetary judgment of up to $10 million will shut the Metzger family's national white power network, which includes the telephone hot lines, a newspaper and a weekly cable television show.
Metzger has told The Times that, although a group of Portland skinheads has pleaded guilty to the murder, he and his son had no direct involvement in the Portland slaying and should not be held responsible. Neither he nor his son, who heads the Aryan Youth Movement, the skinhead arm of their organization, has been criminally prosecuted in the slaying.
But John Metzger has filed for bankruptcy in San Diego County, and his father has been slowly liquidating some of his assets. In an interview Wednesday, Tom Metzger conceded that they have been unable to find a lawyer willing to defend them in the lawsuit.
"There's no lawyer going to take this case," he said. "They're all scared of it."
The affidavit filed Wednesday, signed by Michael Barrett, is the most damaging so far to the Metzger defense. Barrett, a former organizer in the Metzger's "WAR Skins" operation, is one of three former Metzger agents who have gone into hiding and are expected to be key witnesses against the Metzgers when the case goes to trial.
Tom Metzger conceded that Barrett "started our WAR Skins operation" in Riverside County. But he said Barrett was later expelled from the organization because of suspicion that he was involved in illegal drugs.
"He claimed he was clean, but he wasn't," Metzger said. "So he was bounced out of Riverside, and I guess went to Portland."
Barrett, in his affidavit, said that "when I was president of WAR Skins, I had close contact with Tom Metzger and his son, John."
"I was taught by Tom and John Metzger that Jews and blacks were enemies of the Aryan race and it was necessary to use violence against them to save the white Aryan race," he added. "Both of them encouraged me and other skinheads to use violence."
Metzger, however, denied that he has ever preached violence, other than in self-defense. "There's hundreds of other skinheads that would refute Michael Barrett," Metzger said. "We told them simple street violence was a waste of time."
Barrett said he desecrated a synagogue in Redwood City, Calif., in November, 1987, and that "Tom and John Metzger were both aware I had committed this act." In October, 1988, he said, he joined other Metzger agents in the Portland area to help organize a skinhead group called the East Side White Pride.
"When I went to Portland, I took five baseball bats," Barrett said. "The baseball bats and Doc Marten boots are the weapons of choice of the skinheads."
Metzger laughed at any suggestion that he gave the bats to Barrett, saying: "I don't know. I guess he must be a real fan of baseball."
Barrett said he and David Mazzella, another former Metzger confidant, began organizing the East Side White Pride and spreading WAR propaganda in the Portland area.
"Dave and I told these skinheads that blacks and Jews were the enemy of the White Aryan Race, and the most important thing was to cause physical trouble for blacks and Jews," Barrett said in the affidavit.
"We told them to use violence if they got an opportunity and to be sure and beat the hell out of the enemy. We were telling them what Tom and John Metzger told us to say to Skinheads we were organizing. We got the East Side White Pride group all fired up to carry out Tom and John Metzger's goals of harming blacks and Jews."
He said that, on the night when Mulugeta Seraw was killed, he and Mazzella met with Kenneth Mieske, Kyle Brewster and Steven Strasser, the three skinheads who later pleaded guilty to the murder.
"We got them all fired up on WAR and Tom Metzger's hate-filled beliefs so they would carry out the goals of WAR and the Metzgers," he said in the affidavit.
He said he "kept in daily contact" with the Metzgers during the entire time he was in Portland.
"We reported on our organizing activity and sought their advice," he said. "Mazzella informed them of the murder before the police had learned who committed the crime and before Mieske, Brewster and Strasser were arrested.
"Tom told us to keep our mouths shut and not talk to police."
Metzger said he never talked to Barrett or Mazzella about the killing. But, even if he had, he said, he would have told them the same.
"I always tell people not to talk to the police," he said. "That's their constitutional right. They have a right to remain silent.
"But they never called me anyway."
He also charged that the attorneys for the Southern Poverty Law Center told Barrett what they wanted him to say in the affidavit, and then had him sign the document.
"He's been carefully coached by the center," he said. "This is the way they operate."
Also filed Wednesday was a transcript of a Jan. 24 deposition of Tom Metzger in San Diego, in which he repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer any questions on the grounds it might incriminate him. A second deposition hearing is scheduled for next week.