Former Guardsman Pleads Fifth, Asks Immunity Over Kent State

A former Ohio National Guardsman called before the Kent State federal grand jury refused to testify yesterday and asked for full immunity, his attorney said.

C.D. Lambres of Cleveland said James Pierce, his client, pleaded the Fifth Amendment right to protection from self-incrimination when he was called to testify.

Pierce is among those Guardsmen the Guard lists as having fired on students during demonstrations against the American invasion of Cambodia in May 1970. Guardsmen killed four students and wounded nine during the demonstration.

Pierce himself was a Kent State student in 1970, and was mobilized as a member of the Guard's Troop G, 107th Armed Cavalry, when Ohio governor James A. Rhodes ordered the Guard on campus.

Lambres refused to say what questions Pierce was asked, or to let him talk to reporters. He said the Justice Department could go to federal court for a decision on whether the questions were incriminatory and whether Pierce should be required to answer them.


Justice Department attorneys were unavailable for comment.

J. Stanley Pottinger '62, director of the Justice Department's Office of Civil Rights, reopened investigation of the Kent State killings last year, despite opposition from then attorney-general John N. Mitchell and present attorney-general William B. Saxbe among others.