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Missing Atheist Said Seen in 1997

May 25, 2000 GMT

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ A second defense witness testified today that she saw atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair and two family members after they had been reported missing.

Testimony concluded in the kidnapping and extortion trial of a man suspected in the disappearance of O’Hair, her son and her granddaughter. Closing arguments could start as soon as this afternoon.

Four defense witnesses were called today, including Bonnie Jean Davis, a San Antonio bar owner, who testified that three people who visited her bar in July-September 1995 were the O’Hairs.

Gary Karr, a 52-year ex-con with a history of violence, is charged with kidnapping and extortion. He faces life in prison if convicted. Although prosecutors have named two other suspects in the disappearance, Karr is the only one charged.

O’Hair, Jon Garth Murray and Robin Murray O’Hair disappeared in 1995 with $600,000 in gold coins, although $100,000 of it was later recovered.

On Wednesday, a Baptist minister, the Rev. William Gordon Jr., testified he saw the atheist leader in Romania in November 1997 _ two years after they disappeared.

``I believe the person I saw was Madalyn Murray O’Hair,″ said Gordon, an atheism expert who works for the Southern Baptist Convention in Georgia. He acknowledged he ``can’t say beyond a shadow of a doubt it was her″ and didn’t talk to her.

Prosecutors believe the O’Hairs were killed, dismembered with a bow saw and buried. The bodies have not been found.

Karr faces life in prison if convicted on charges of extortion and kidnapping relating to the trio’s disappearance.