Alleged Neo-Nazi Convicted In Trooper Slaying
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ An alleged neo-Nazi faces a sentence of death or life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying of a state trooper during a routine traffic stop last spring.
The Boone County Circuit Court jury deliberated less than two hours before issuing its verdict Wednesday against David Tate.
The jury was to meet today to hear additional testimony and determine whether to recommend the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years. The judge hands down the formal sentence later.
Tate, 23, of Athol, Idaho, sat quietly in his chair with his hands folded on his lap as Boone County Circuit Judge Frank Conley read the verdict.
Tate, alleged to be a member of The Order, a white supremacist organization, was convicted of killing Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmie Linegar, 31, with a silencer-equipped machine pistol on April 15.
The same day, Tate and 22 other alleged members of The Order were indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle on racketeering and conspiracy charges. Ten of those defendants are on trial in Seattle.
Linegar and Trooper Allen D. Hines, 35, were shot after they stopped Tate’s van, which was later found to contain what authorities called an arsenal of weapons. Hines recovered and testified at Tate’s trial.
Defense and prosecution lawyers told the jury in closing arguments Wednesday that the case hinged on the issue of premeditation. The defense said during jury selection Monday it would not deny that Tate killed Linegar.
Public Defender Patrick Deaton said Wednesday Tate acted out of fear.
″David wasn’t coolly reflecting. He was just getting more and more scared all the time,″ Deaton said.
The prosecution, however, contended that Tate had time to think about his actions and knew what he was doing.
″The defendant was poised and ready to go,″ Prosecutor Jim Justus told the jurors. ″His intentions and plans were already made. He decided on the 15th day of April ’I am not going to prison. I am going to kill those officers.‴
The defense completed its case Tuesday with two witnesses - Tate’s mother and a psychiatrist - after the prosecution had called a total of 10 witnesses.
Deaton contended that Tate’s actions were the outgrowth of his isolation as a child and upbringing in a right-wing religious faction.
William Logan, director of law and psychiatry at the Menninger Foundation, a private psychiatric hospital in Topeka, Kan., testified Tuesday that Tate’s actions may have been fueled by right-wing beliefs ″learned and taught to him″ by his family and church, the Church of Jesus Christ Christian.
Authorities have said members of the church split off to form The Order.