Testimony begins in racist plot case

Associated Press/March 9, 1999
By David A. Lieb

Little Rock, Ark. -- Prosecutors opened their case against two white supremacists charged with murder by calling a former associate who said one suspect likened Jews and blacks to insects and animals.

Chevie Kehoe, 26, of Colville, Wash., and Danny Lee, 26, of Yukon, Okla., are also charged with racketeering and conspiracy.

Kehoe and Lee are accused of using a campaign of violence to set up a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest and could get the death penalty if convicted.

John Shults, a convict who says he has left the white supremacy movement, testified Monday that he joined Kehoe in the Northwest.

"We would make such comments as `The Jews are nothing but maggots. The Jews should be exterminated.' ... Black people were the beasts of the field, how they were meant to be lower than the white man, how we used them for caretaking," Shults said.

Members of the mostly black jury were expressionless. Shults also said Kehoe spoke of executing judges to spark a revolt.

The crimes associated with the alleged plot include a 1996 bombing at City Hall in Spokane, Wash.; shootouts with Ohio police; the slayings of two people in Idaho; and the drownings of a white Arkansas family of three.

U.S. Attorney Dan Stripling told jurors that Kehoe's beliefs were based on those of Robert Mathews, the founder of the Aryan Nations white supremacist group. Mathews was killed in 1984 when his hideout caught fire during a shootout with federal agents in Washington state.

The prosecutor said Kehoe and Lee robbed the Arkansas family in 1996 and killed them by taping plastic bags over their heads, weighing them down with rocks and throwing them into a bayou.

Later, the defendants told Kehoe's parents that the family was on "a liquid diet," Stripling said.

The judge has issued a gag order in the case, but Lee's mother, Lea Graham, said her son is innocent and no racist.

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