Warren Kimbro and Loretta Luckes have pleaded guilty to charges of second degree murder and are expected to testify for the prosecution. When first arrested in May, Kimbro pleaded not guilty. Police kept him apart from the other prisoners, and in January the State Attorney's office paid traveling expenses so that his brother, a police sergeant in Dade County, Fla., could come and talk to him. Shortly after his brother's visit, Kimbro changed his plea to guilty. His lawyer subsequently withdrew from the case after filing a motion which claimed Kimbro's constitutional rights had been violated because the interview with his brother had taken place with on this lawyer's permission or knowledge.
Bail hearings for Seale began early this month and are still going on. It seems likely that the tapes allegedly found in the Panther headquarters in the May 22 raid, and the testimony of Sams and Kimbro will be the main items in the prosecution's case. It is not known exactly what Kimbro will testify. Voices on the tape-which were identified as being those of some of the defendants by Loretta Luckes-do not include Bobby Seale's.
THE DEFENSE strategy is not yet clear, but the Panthers have stated repeatedly during the investigation that Alex Rackley was a member of the Party in good standing and that he was killed by police agents. Charles Garry told reporters, "We have every reason to believe and we intend to prove that Rackley was murdered by police agents." In an interview published in The Black Panther, the Party's official newspaper, published March 21, Scale said, "George Sams killed Alex Rackley . . . George Samsdefinitely actually in fact was the one who did kill Brother Alex Rackley, and Brother Alex Rackley was no agent. . . . We've got documented evidence-we can document George Sams' activities and exactly what he did and how he put this stuff together."
Defense strategy also seems to call for a cool approach to courtroom proceedings. Although Seale-already facing four years for alleged disruptions in the Chicago trial-said in the interview. I got a reputation for dealing with judges who violate my constitutional rights." he has not disturbed the court so far.
On April 14. Party Chief of Staff David Hilbard and Minister of Culture Emory Douglas were handed a summary sentence of six months for contempt of court after a scuffle with marshals who had grabbed from them a note written by Seale. A week later the judge commuted the sentences to "time served" and ordered the two released after they-and Seale-made public apologies to the court for the outburst. At that time. Sale pledged to "maintain decorum" in the courtroom. "I pledge allegiance to the United States of America. I pledge allegiance to liberty and justice." he said. "I want a fair trial and I respect your honor very much."
The opening of Seale's trial may be delaved for many months because Garry intends to challenge the selection procedures for the Grand Jury which indicted Seale. Of the 20 jurors on the panel. six had served on Grand Juries before-some as many as 14 times. Many are old personal friends of the Sheriff-the barber who cuts his hair and the owner of the barbershop. the son of a family friend, a former jail guard who had worked under the sheriff. One is a lawyer who happened to be in the courthouse and was impaneled at the last minute so that there would be a full jury. Many of those who are not the sheriff's friends .Garry says. And of the 20 members, 13 are between 50 and 70 years old.
If he gets the fair trial he wants, many of the confusions surrounding the events of May 19, 1969 and following may disappear. If he does not. many new ones may appear. At any rate, something will be settled in the Superior Court in New Haven in the coming months.