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Metzger Co-Defendant Fails to Show in Court : Trial: An arrest warrant is issued for Brad Kelly, charged with the Fallbrook white supremacist and two others in an L.A. cross-burning.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A co-defendant in the trial of white supremacist Tom Metzger failed to appear in court Thursday, prompting the judge to issue an arrest warrant for the man and suspend legal proceedings until next week.

Superior Court Judge J.D. Smith issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Brad Kelly of Monrovia, one of four avowed white supremacists accused of joining an illegal cross-burning ceremony eight years ago in the Kagel Canyon area.

“We haven’t heard from him,” Smith said. “The bailiffs are out looking for him now.”

Kelly’s attorney, Kevin S. Avery, told the court he had not been contacted by his client and did not know what happened to him.

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“I am as baffled as you are,” Avery later told The Times. “He hasn’t called (the court); he hasn’t called me.”

If Kelly, 29, is found by authorities, he will be arrested and held without bail until a hearing determines whether he had a legitimate reason to be absent Thursday.

Smith suspended the trial until Monday. If Kelly has not been located by then, Smith will probably declare a mistrial for Kelly and remove him from the case. Kelly would be tried later.

Avery said nothing in Kelly’s behavior in the last few days suggested that he would flee. Kelly’s wife and five children recently moved to north-central California, the attorney said.

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Avery last saw Kelly at the close of proceedings Wednesday afternoon. “He said: ‘I’ll see you tomorrow,’ ” Avery said.

Kelly, a house painter, is charged with one felony count of conspiracy to violate the municipal Fire Code and misdemeanor counts of unlawful burning and unlawful assembly. He is being tried with Metzger, a former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of the Fallbrook-based White Aryan Resistance; Stanley Witek, leader of the neo-Nazi National Socialist American Workers Party, and Erich Schmidt of Glendale.

So far, the jurors have watched a videotape shot by free-lance journalist Peter Lake, who, posing as a tropical fish importer, infiltrated white supremacist circles in 1983. Lake has also testified for nearly four days.

The videotape shows about 15 people joining in a ceremony on Dec. 3, 1983, in which three 15-foot crosses are erected and ignited in a Klan sympathizer’s back yard. Prosecutors maintain that the ritual was held to incite violence and intimidate residents in the racially mixed neighborhood.

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On the tape, Kelly is one of three men seen erecting the crosses, which were wrapped in burlap and soaked in gasoline and kerosene.

Kelly and his three co-defendants have entered pleas of not guilty. Kelly has been free on his own recognizance.

The defendants have maintained that the trial is a political persecution and an attempt to stifle their free speech. They could be sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail if convicted.


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